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Based on ‘NGOs and the economic recovery of Afghanistan’. In the absence of a cohesive and controlling government in Afghanistan, NGOs have taken over much of the work in the economic and social arena, becoming, by proxy, the makers of policy and directors of practice. However the unpredictable yet growing power of the Taliban leads NGOs to put off confronting the policies of the government in favour of maintaining their own influence and implementing projects. The time has come for NGOs to abandon this proxy role, and seek to engage constructively with the dynamics of the emerging government. This paper describes seven small ways for microfinance to acquire the virtues of informal finance, which are commonly perceived as slashed transaction costs, supply of not just loans but also savings and implicit insurance, sensitivity to the constraints faced by women, substitution of confidence in character for physical collateral, socially enforced and/or self-enforced contracts, and sequences of repeated transactions.

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