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Business idea reducing food waste


A participant of the project funded by the European Union (EU), Zagatala resident Rafael Surkhayev and his siblings have established a cooperative to produce dried fruit.

            Rafael Surkhayev, a 35-year-old small entrepreneur, owns a mobile phone shop. However, in addition to this work, he decided to try himself in a different field – the production and sales of dried fruits. Our beneficiary thought about the possibility of processing and drying perishable persimmons of the rich persimmon orchards in Zagatala.

            “We have a lot of persimmon trees and ripe fruits were left on trees and perished. I always thought that something could be done about this. Though we have such an abundance, people need this fruit somewhere else too. In autumn, ripe hard persimmons were harvested and the rest was spoiled. Dried products do not get squashed, easily transported and delivered to the buyers without damage”.

            Mr. Surkhayev, who received information about the EU-funded project through  Turan Bank, decided to participate in the project. Thinking about establishing a cooperative, Rafael learned details of the business by attending training with his brothers.

            “I had an idea. Joining the project both increased my motivation and helped me realize my idea”.

            The beneficiary received investment capital from the EU-funded project to implement his business idea and purchased a site for the cooperative’s activities, as well as a drying chamber, chopping machine, shelves and other necessary equipment for drying fruits.

            Employees of the cooperative are his family members. But during the season, they need an additional workforce and dozens of residents work and receive salaries. Last year, 30 people were employed. The young entrepreneur says that an additional team will be involved this year as well. They do not carry out the packaging process in cooperative, but they are planning it.

            The entrepreneur, who also prepares dried watermelons, melons, roses and linden leaves for the experiment and will add these products to the production turnover, because there is demand. He is convinced that some products will become unreplaceable for tea tables, and even useful for the production of candy.

 “Some people prefer dried fruit over sugar. Our products are exactly what they want. For example, dried persimmons are sweet, locally-made and organic products”, – Rafael says.

            Rafael noted that he has new business ideas he is working on.


Title of the actionAccelerating the development of sustainable micro-entrepreneurship in rural regions of Azerbaijan
Priority sectorEmployment and entrepreneurship
Contracting partyAzerbaijan Micro-finance Association
PartnerThe Small and Medium Business Development Agency, The State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Issues
Duration of project30 months (01.09.2018 – 28.02.2021)
European Union budget (EUR)EUR 464805
Main objectives of the projectThe project-specific objective is to strengthen rural micro entrepreneurs’ capacities to enable them to start or expand their own businesses by building their skills, facilitating market opportunities and providing seed capital in the Ganja – Gazakh, Guba – Khachmaz, Sheki – Zagatala and Kur – Araz (Aran) Economic Zones.
LocationsGanja-Gazakh, Sheki-Zaqatala, Guba-Khachmaz and Aran Economic Zones