Frequently Asked Questions
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What do the letters DAI stand for?
DAI was incorporated in 1970 as Development Alternatives, Inc. The founders, all of whom had worked overseas in the 1960s, chose that name because they thought they could bring fresh alternatives and innovations to the way development was being done. That spirit remains essential to DAI, but over the decades we have come to be known just as often by the acronym, and in recent years for the sake of brevity and consistency we have opted to present ourselves simply as DAI.
What does DAI do?
We tackle fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governments, and instability. And we do this by bringing together fresh combinations of expertise and innovation across multiple disciplines—crisis mitigation and stability operations, democratic governance and public sector management, agriculture and agribusiness, private sector development and financial services, economics and trade, HIV/AIDS and disease control, water and natural resources management, and energy and climate change.
Who owns DAI?
DAI has always been employee-owned. In its early days, ownership was concentrated in relatively few hands, but now DAI is wholly owned by our employee stock ownership plan, a retirement plan in which all corporate employees are automatically enrolled. The plan represents many hundreds of employees.
For more than 40 years, our commitment to employee ownership has meant that:
- We remain independent, driven not by investors, parent companies, or external stockholders but by our own commitment to shaping a more livable world.
- We have a personal stake in the success of the firm and by extension the success of our clients.
- We field a workforce that is accountable, engaged, and rewarded for superior performance. DAI staff have regular and unhindered access to senior management and are actively involved in decisions affecting our business. We are held to account not only by the client but by our fellow owners and their representatives, the Board of Directors, on which several employees sit.
Is DAI a company or an NGO?
DAI is a company. Our founders were determined to live or die as an enterprise, offering services on a competitive, cost-effective, best-value basis that is self-sustaining because it is profitable. They created a business model that would embrace the rigors of the marketplace—competition and innovation—plough its returns back into the organization and its people, and grow a company to serve as an engine for progress in the developing world. Competition is at the heart of this vision. We compete for 99 percent of our projects, going head to head with companies, nongovernmental organizations, and other service providers. For DAI, open competition keeps us sharp and tests our claims to quality and value. For our clients, for taxpayers, and for development as a whole, competition yields lower costs, better value, superior technical innovation, and more diverse technical choices.
How many people work for DAI?
Given the churn of projects and the mix of long- and short-term assignments, this is a moving target. But as of April 2013, we employ roughly 2,137 people worldwide, more than 70 percent of them local staff.
Who are your partners?
In terms of consultants, we tap an in-house database of more than 60,000 highly qualified individuals. Organizational partners vary from country to country, assignment to assignment, but all told we work with more than 200 institutional collaborators.
What do the DAI colors and the DAI flag stand for?
Our visual identity is built around our colors—brown, green, and blue—and the DAI logo, a flag. Brown stands for foundations and speaks to the fact that we try to strengthen the social, political, and economic roots from which stability, equity, and prosperity can grow. Green stands for results—the fruit of the work we deliver. Blue stands for aspirations, both our goals as a company and the vision our clients and beneficiaries hold for their own future. We chose the flag as a symbol of allegiance; we wanted an emblem we could put on any DAI deliverable anywhere in the world that would say we stand by this and take ownership of it.
Does DAI offer funding for development programs?
As a rule, no. Typically we implement programs funded by international donors, national governments, private corporations, or major philanthropies. As part of those programs, we very often are charged with overseeing and disbursing program funds in support of civil society organizations, local institutions, or programs with development-oriented goals, but those disbursements are invariably on a local, program-by-program basis. That said, we do sponsor a DAI community engagement program with a focus on youth empowerment in the places where we live and work. The most recent donation was a $10,000 award to the Organization for Youth Empowerment in Honduras.