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Microfinance is a market-driven approach to development, alleviating poverty through the creation of local economies and sustainable livelihoods. It is, however, 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 microfinance 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. These have provided a livelihood for nearly 1 million people.