Elnur is a 31-year-old married man with four children. He is an IDP [internally displaced person] and lives with his family in Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. He breeds sheep for meat and wool for local butchers. Elnur has more than 10 years of experience in this field, thanks to his father who taught him the best way to look after sheep. He receives 120 Azerbaijani manats (AZN) of financial support from the government monthly, but this is too low to cover his family's needs.
Elnur usually buys lambs, raises and fattens them for 4-5 months and resells them at a more profitable price in the local livestock bazaar. His monthly income is 120 AZN. People use meat in everyday national dishes such as pilau and dolma and always use yoghurt sauce. Mutton is considered very healthy and is also present in everyday life. Wool is very useful for blankets and bed mattresses made by local woman.
There is only one source of financial income in this family. Elnur applied for 800 AZN to purchase seven sheep and fodder.
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.