Elmir A., 20 years old, is the only bread-winner in his family. Since 2005, Elmir has been running his own office supply and slipper sales business, based in a rented place next to his house. He competes effectively with the big stores in the vicinity by offering prices that are more attractive. As a result, Elmir's business so far has been very successful. At present, he needs a loan of US$1,200 for a term of 15 months to be able to expand the business by purchasing additional office supplies for sale.
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.