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 are skilled technical specialists and project managers, trained in the disciplines of international development and steeped in the challenges of operating overseas. We work for development agencies, private corporations, and philanthropies to tackle fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governance, and instability. This means working across the spectrum of international development. Today, for example, it means:

Is DAI a company or an NGO?

DAI is a company, wholly owned by its employees. Our founders created a business model that would embrace the rigors of the marketplace—competition and innovation—and plough its returns back into the organization and its people so that DAI can serve as an engine for progress in emerging and developing nations. Competition is at the heart of this vision. We compete for 99 percent of our projects. 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. DAI is a proud member of the Council for International Development Companies, but we also believe that the enterprise of development is best served by a diverse ecosystem of service providers including private firms large and small, local and international NGOs, multilateral organizations, academic institutions, think tanks, and so on. In 2017, DAI entered into a formal strategic affiliation with the distinguished North Carolina-based NGO, IntraHealth International.

Who Owns DAI?

DAI is wholly owned by its employees. All global corporate employees may invest in the firm, and more than 80 percent have done so. In 2016, at the annual conference of the Global Equity Organization (GEO), an organization dedicated to advancing understanding of employee share plans, DAI’s plan won the award for Best Use of a Share Plan in a Private Company. “DAI has raised the bar in achieving its corporate objectives and inclusively engaging its workforce as owners,” wrote GEO.

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 January 2017, we employ approximately 3000 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 because 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 service award for DAI employees who volunteer in their communities.