Zahide is a 30-year-old woman and married with three children. She is an IDP (internally displaced person) and lives with her family in the Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. She breeds cows and cattle and sells milk, milk products as well as cattle for meat purposes to local butchers. He also raises sheep for meat purposes. Zahide has more than eight years of experience in this field, thanks to her father who taught her how to best look after cattle. Her husband works as a builder and receives a 80 AZN salary, which is too low to support her family.
Zahide usually buys small cattle and then raises and fattens them in 5-6 months and resells them at profit in the local livestock bazaar. She sells milk and yoghurt to the neighbors. Milk and meat sales bring 140 AZN per month. Milk and yoghurt, as well as beef and mutton, are very popular products in Azerbaijan. People use meat in everyday national dishes as pilau and dolma and they always use yoghurt sauce. Milk products are considered as very healthy and are also present in everyday life.
This is the only financial income in her family and not enough to cover the basic needs of her beloved children. Zahide has applied for a 1,000 AZN loan to purchase one head of cattle and one milk cow.
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.