Akif Amanov, 48, was running a small bicycle repair shop in Jalilabad, a southern region of Azerbaijan, before he met with FINCA. He had wished to open a small shop where he could sell bicycles as well as continue his repair work but he had difficulties accessing financial services from traditional banks in the area.

After several loan refusals from banks, Akif decided to apply to FINCA Azerbaijan’s small loans programme six years ago. With the small loan he bought a number of bicycles and started his own small business. “FINCA trusted me and I realized my wish to open the shop, repay loans, increase savings and to better my standard of living,” Akif said.

Akif Amanov still continues his partnership with FINCA in order to improve his business that now employs two people. Akif says that there is an increase in the number of people who want to have their own bicycle. Seeing people’s interest in bicycling, he organizes weekly tours around the region, in order to promote healthy lifestyles among local residents.