Elshan is a 29-year-old, single man. He is an internally displaced person (IDP) and lives in the Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. Elshan has bred cattle, sheep, and cows for last eight years. He did not attend university, but instead decided to start his business. He receives 50 AZN monthly in financial support from the government, but this not enough to cover his family’s needs.
Elshan usually buys small calves, raises and fattens them for about five to six months and then resells them for a profit in the livestock bazaar. His brother helps him to look after the cattle. Meat is in very high demand in Azerbaijan and people use it in everyday dishes. Elshan also keeps milk cows for personal use and to sell milk products to neighbors.
Elshan’s monthly income is 100 AZN and the cattle business is his main source of income. He applied for a 1,000 AZN loan to purchase one cow and seven sheep. He wants to expand his business and improve the conditions of his family.
Aqroinvest Credit Union was founded in 2001 by a group of 32 farmers from Imishli. It has since grown to become the largest credit union in Azerbaijan, owned by its more than 5,400 borrowers and boasting a portfolio of nearly US$12 million.
AqroInvest is focused on providing loans to the following groups of people: rural farmers, people living in distant southern villages with little or no access to finance and internally displaced people and refugees, many of whom lost their homes and livelihoods during the violent conflicts in the 1990s.
In May 2011, Aqroinvest started a new project with Kiva proving higher education loans to students. The project gives students the support and financing they need to continue their education and helps pay for tuition fees at various universities in Azerbaijan. Aqroinvest is the first credit union in the country to offer students loans.