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 governance, 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.

Is DAI a company or an NGO?

DAI is a company, wholly owned by its employee stock ownership plan. 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 October 2013, we employ more than 2,300 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 is DAI’s relationship with HTSPE?

At the end of 2013, DAI joined forces with HTSPE Ltd., a highly respected international development consultancy based in the United Kingdom. DAI Europe Ltd. now owns all the shares of HTSPE. As a member of the DAI group, HTSPE will continue to do business under its current name and under the direction of HTSPE Managing Director Christopher Lockett, who supports DAI Senior Vice President Julian Lob-Levyt. The combination will be seamless to our clients, but over time it will allow us to scale up our business so we offer enhanced capabilities and greater value for money to our European customers and other international donors.

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.