NGOs and income generation projects: lessons from the Joint Funding Scheme

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 paper 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 - is affirmed, the challenge facing NGOs is to progress further from this base. In particular, the paper 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-orientated projects need to ensure that they concentrate on the application of technology in a market context rather than its development per se. 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.