“For a long time, going into business on my own seemed like an impossible dream, but sometimes you get lucky and you find someone who shares the dream with you and helps to make it come true.” That’s how it all began for Fuad Mammadali Aliyev, with the help of Access Bank, the European Fund for South East Europe (EFSE), and EU4Business.
Just over fifteen years ago Aliyev gave up his job as a salesman in a small stationery store in Khachmaz by the Caspian Sea, north of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. “It was tough at first, but my kiosk was my castle. And I had a prime location selling newspapers and stationery at the main bus station,” Fuad reminisces.
For a long time, almost ten years, his kiosk had been his world, too. Until the day Access Bank came into the picture. “Customers kept asking me for things I should have on offer, but I simply didn’t have the space to sell them, let alone stock them,” Fuad explains, “so I began thinking about setting up my own shop. And seeing a bank.”
Entrepreneurial drive and financial track record
Things moved quickly from there as Fuad’s success with the kiosk, his entrepreneurial drive and his thrifty attitude, but also his financial track record, did much to convince the advisor at Access Bank that this was a good, solid business in the making. “Our shop opened for business six years ago and since then we’ve kept adding more and more new things to meet customer demand, like books and toys,” Fuad beams.
“We are now on our ninth loan with Access Bank,” he continues, “and the repayment plan is aligned with our business growth.” In fact, Fuad is now joining forces with another entrepreneur to open a second shop. “This new venture will also enable economies of scale on the purchasing side, which will free more cash flow to create at least two, maybe three new jobs.”
European Fund for South East Europe
Part of the EU4Business initiative, the European Fund for South East Europe aims to foster economic development and prosperity through the sustainable provision of additional development finance, notably to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and to private households, via qualified local financial institutions like Access Bank in Azerbaijan.
Under the EU4Business initiative, EFSE has disbursed more than 50,000 sub-loans to small businesses like Fuad’s in Azerbaijan, with an average loan size of just over €4,000.