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A visit to a number of small enterprise and income-generation projects supported under the ODA’s Joint Funding Scheme in Zimbabwe and Kenya has raised a series of key points which have wider implications for practitioners and donors. The article discusses each point and makes nine ‘recommendations for NGOs and donors who support them. While the general benefits of NGOs – such as their relatively low cost, ability to reach the poor, and innovativeness – are affirmed, the article argues that the challenge facing NGOs is to progress further from this base. In particular, it argues that NGOs need to develop more business-like operations, focusing on the most practicable forms of enterprise structure, but without losing their priority of seeking to benefit the poor and other disadvantaged groups. Technology-oriented projects need to ensure that they concentrate on the application of technology in a market context, rather than developing it for its own sake. NGOs with donors need also to strive for a realistic definition of sustainability, to work towards a more credible project-planning process, and to be aware of the dangers of very visible and expensive investment in project transport undermining NGOs’ efficiency.

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