Sabira is a 60-year-old woman who is married with two sons. She breeds sheep and cattle for meat purposes with local butchers. Sabira has 20 years of experience in this field and she thanks her husband, who taught her how to look after cattle and who helps her to run the business. Her husband is currently on a pension.
Sabira usually buys small cattle and sheep, raises and fattens them in 5-6 months, and resells them for a more profitable price in the local livestock bazaar. Meat selling brings an income of 80 AZN per month. Beef and mutton are very popular products in Azerbaijan. People use meat in everyday national dishes such as pilau and dolma, and they always use yogurt sauce. She also sells sheep wool which is useful for clothing and blankets.
Sabira applied for a loan of 2000 AZN to purchase three cattle and eight sheep. This will be her second loan and she has a good client history.
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.