Conversations in Development

Talking about foreign aid, development and social change.

Conversations in Development is a series of open and honest conversations about issues in the aid and development sector with leading professionals in the field. Each episode features an expert guest in conversation with Peter Mason, the CEO of Cufa, and journalist Olivia Rosenman. The podcast is brought to you by Cufa, an international development agency creating infinite value alleviating poverty across the Asia Pacific . Produced by Olivia Rosenman with music by Studio Garry.

Microfinance is a market-driven approach to development, alleviating poverty through the creation of local economies and sustainable livelihoods. But it’s also associated with negative perceptions such as profiting off poverty and creating cycles of debt. We spoke with Mahir Momand, a microfinance expert who pioneered the field in Afghanistan, about how his work reduced poverty, addressed gender inequality and ultimately threatened the basis of the Taliban insurgency.

Mahir Momand is a microfinance expert and the CEO of Thrive Refugee Enterprise, an organisation that provides micro-finance and business support to refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. Previously, Mahir served as CEO of the National Association of Credit Unions in Afghanistan, worked for the World Bank, UNHCR and was Financial Adviser to the Federal Ministry of Labour in Afghanistan. The microfinance programs run by Mahir have helped establish a total of 165,000 small and medium business enterprises in Afghanistan that provided a livelihood for nearly 1 million people.


This podcast is brought to you by Cufa, an international development agency alleviating poverty across the Asia Pacific .

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Releasing 13 August, this episode invites Mahir Momand, CEO of Thrive Refugee Enterprise, to teach us about a market-driven approach to development - microfinance. He explores both the positive and negative approaches and tells us how he reduced poverty, addressed gender inequality and ultimately threatened the basis of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

Make sure you've subscribed to Conversations in Development to catch all our open and honest conversations with industry experts about issues in foreign aid and the development sector.

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168 million children are in child labour around the world, with almost half engaged in hazardous work. The forces driving child labour are complex and wide-ranging, from criminal intent, to economic necessity, to cultural norms. So how realistic is SDG Target 8.7 that aims to end child labour in all its forms by 2025? We speak with international lawyer Brynn O’Brien about the difficulties involved with regulating child labour and how it fits into structural problems in the global economic system.

Brynn O’Brien is an international lawyer and researcher in the area of business and human rights. She started her career as a corporate lawyer and then went on to practise human rights law, representing refugees in Australia’s detention centres and people who had suffered human trafficking and severe exploitation in Australia. Now as Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, she holds Australia’s largest companies to account for their impacts on people and the environment.


This podcast is brought to you by Cufa, an international development agency alleviating poverty across the Asia Pacific .

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Releasing 26 June, this episode invites Brynn O'Brien, Executive Director at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, to dive into the complex world of child labour. She explores the link between big business and exploitation, consumer behaviour and the possibility of eliminating child labour by 2025.

Make sure you've subscribed to Conversations in Development to catch all our open and honest conversations with industry experts about issues in foreign aid and the development sector.

conversations in development cufa foreign aid development microfinance international development child labour child labor australasian centre for corporate responsibility corporate responsibility sweatshops law UN sustainable children poverty


Aid flows in when conflict erupts but could aid play a bigger role before conflict turns violent? We speak with Aimé Saba from the University of Sydney’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies about how aid operates in war zones, why the example of Africa offers a case for increasing aid and whether conflict is necessary.

Aimé Saba has worked in the field of international development, humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding and peacekeeping for over 10 years. He recently returned to Sydney after serving as a civilian peacekeeper with the UN Mission in Liberia in Monrovia. He has also served on the Iraq desk of the Department of Political Affairs at the UN Secretariat HQ in New York as has worked for the Australian Government’s overseas aid program (AusAID) on humanitarian programmes in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, North Korea, and the Philippines. Aimé is an accredited Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist and is currently part of the Australian Civilian Corps Cadre with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


This podcast is brought to you by Cufa, an international development agency alleviating poverty across the Asia Pacific .

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