Lala Gurbanaliyeva lives in Yukhari Tala Village, Zagatala, a mountainous district of Azerbaijan. She lives with her husband. They have two sons of 30 and 32 years old – both of them have their own families. By education Lala is a construction engineer. However, it was difficult to find relevant work in this sphere, which made her to become a math teacher in the village’s high school instead.
Her husband is a renowned beekeeper. In order to increase her income after work, Lala has also helped her husband with beekeeping. Her sons and their spouses also contribute to family beekeeping business in one or other ways. One of his sons specializes in making and repairing bee hives, the other one helps with selling honey. The Gurbanaliyevs had increased the number of their bee colonies up to 400 on their own.
Lala heard about the EU-funded “Accelerating development of sustainable micro-entrepreneurship in rural regions of Azerbaijan” (ADSMIRRA) Project, which was implemented by Azerbaijan Micro-finance Association (AMFA), from Turan Bank and discussed this opportunity with her husband. They thought that this would be a great opportunity for her and her sons to start up their own bee keeping business and they all three decided to apply. Fortunately, they were invited to attend financial literacy, business planning and cooperative development training sessions organized by AMFA. Later they received another support from the Project – they were also qualified for grants. It was a great news for the whole family and they felt very lucky.
Once the funds were received, they established a family cooperative. Beekeeping requires all family to work together, it is not a job for one person. The most part of the received grants they invested in purchasing a honey extraction equipment. They also bought about 60 new bee colonies for their sons – 30 for each and some protectives clothes and other necessary devices. Now they have altogether about 460 bee colonies that produce honey. Now they can produce enough quantity of honey at the time as requested by customers thanks to the efficiency ensured by the honey extraction equipment. This allows them to respond to the market demand on time and qualitatively.
Lala also enthusiastically works on expanding her own apitherapy business as a part of family cooperative and this enthusiasm has an interesting history. Initially, she was an ordinary assistant to her husband but for quite some time she became ill with some persistent illness. After having suffered for several months, she was eventually able to cure herself by taking propolis. Since then she has become passionate about the healing power of honey products and thus, wants to help more people with apitherapy. After receiving her grant, she does not only take care of bees but also prepares bee products such as propolis, bee wax, royal jelly, bee pollen and others. She also prepares natural cosmetics for skin care from honey and other bee products. She says many people call her for advise, which she provides wholeheartedly. She is full of ideas about the future of her apitherapy.
The current pandemic has negatively affected their family cooperative as well: since the roads were closed, they had difficulties with moving bees to the fields where bees used to start collecting honey. It is also challenging to sell honey and honey products because the number of foreign tourists and local people who used to visit their district has decreased drastically. Meanwhile, they have remained optimistic and learned and applied new ways to re-establish client connections and manage logistics. Having opened social media accounts, the Gurbanaliyevs have been able to promote and sell their honey products online, too. The e-sergi.az platform, which has been developed and launched by the Project, is another support tool to help them in this direction.
Lala’s family is determined to develop their family cooperative and expand their market share and product diversity. They are grateful to ADSMIRRA Project and expressly mention that the Project has opened a new page in their lives.
AMFA implemented the European Union-funded “Accelerating Development of Sustainable Micro-entrepreneurship in Rural Regions of Azerbaijan” (ADSMIRRA) Project in the economic regions of Ganja-Gazakh, Guba-Khachmaz, Shaki-Zagatala and Aran in 2018-2021. The Project aimed at strengthening the potential of micro and small entrepreneurs in rural areas by providing trainings on financial literacy, business planning and trainings for cooperatives, mentoring, allocating capital for starting or expanding micro businesses, etc. In total, the Project has supported the launch of 37 start-ups, the expansion of 76 micro businesses and the creation of 83 jobs in rural areas of the country.