Innovation and Entrepreneurship

A pioneer of developing and implementing strategies for national competitiveness, DAI now works at the forefront of development strategies around low-carbon growth.

We work across all sectors—from rural agricultural to large-scale manufacturing and service industries—to boost firm-level innovation and productivity and develop ecosystems that foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and employment generation. We take a commercial approach to stimulating production efficiency and quality improvements, through new technologies and improved workforce skills. We work with companies to adopt innovative business models, reach high-value markets, leverage investments, and access new technologies.

We engage all stakeholders—policymakers, private sector, training institution, and business service providers—to generate partnerships that offer entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, particularly for youth.

Our Experts


Tim Bergstrom leads the Somali Business Catalytic Fund, managing the operational and grant teams to achieve the program objectives.

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Edwin Berk has made a career of building the businesses of professional services companies where public and private sectors intersect. After a brief stint teaching at Yale University, he joined a public policy consulting firm.

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Greta Greathouse has more than 35 years of experience innovating emerging markets and coupling the private and public sector for technology development.

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Kate Heuisler is a development practitioner with 15 years of experience designing and managing development programs in 16 countries.

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Bobby Jefferson, a leader in the field of information and communications technology for development, is working to expand DAI’s range of digital health services.

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John Jepsen has expertise in applying market systems approaches and making markets work for the poor (M4P) strategies to economic growth programming, as well as specializations in various financial inclusion and capital mobilization topics.

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Danijela Kostic performs management, coordination, planning, and assessments of information and communications technology (ICT) projects, writing technical documentation, reviewing ICT components for DAI projects, working on proposals with ICT components, and designing tailored solutions for project beneficiaries.

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Growing up on a family farm in Wisconsin, Kristi Ragan developed a deep urge to see the world. While Kristi was earning her master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, her professor, Madeleine Albright, urged her to join the United Nations and become “an international civil servant.”

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Our Projects


Afghanistan—Promote: Women in the Economy (WIE)

The U.S Agency for International Development, in continuing its longstanding commitment to women in Afghanistan, has launched the Afghan Women’s Leadership in the Economy project.

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East Africa—Trade and Investment Hub

Growth in the five East African Community Partner States—Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—has been robust but uneven, with millions of people left behind in poverty. Women, youth, smallholder farmers, and the poor are not fully represented in policy making or implementation nor integrated into the wider economic community.

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Jordan—Competitiveness Program (JCP)

The Jordan Competitiveness Program (JCP), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), assists Jordanian private and public sector leaders to achieve competitiveness and job creation goals, equitably and sustainably.

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Jordan—Workforce Development (WFD) Project

In 2014, the Government of Jordan responded to the King’s call for a 10-year economic blueprint for meeting a set of challenging objectives. Key among the objectives was “to enhance policies related to human resources, link education policies to labor market demands, focus on building a labor force through vocational training, especially youth, so that they gradually replace guest labor, and encourage women to join the labor market.”

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Nigeria—Market Development Programme (MADE)

This 4½-year design and implement project in the Niger Delta is applying a market development approach (M4P) to improve market access, increase economic activity, and raise the incomes of 150,000 poor people, half of whom will be women.

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Pakistan—Transforming Education in Pakistan (TEP)

The Transforming Education in Pakistan (TEP) programme manages a public advocacy campaign in Pakistan to ensure that parents and civil society groups support quality education.

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Worldwide—Center for Development Innovation Professional Management Services

The U.S. Global Development Lab’s Center for Development Innovation (CDI) is driving long-term, sustained investment in innovations that have the potential to end extreme poverty.

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Zambia—Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ)

Utilizing the making markets work for the poor (M4P) approach, FSDZ works to affect systemic change and facilitate linkages and coordination among consumers, financial service providers, government, and other key market actors in Zambia.

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Somali Business Catalytic Fund (SBCF)

Over the past twenty years, violent conflicts in various areas of the Somalia Peninsula have hindered lasting economic growth and stability in the entire region, with more than 70 percent of the population living below the poverty line today. Despite these difficult conditions, the Somali private sector has shown remarkable resiliency, with a variety of small businesses managing to prosper and create an environment for potential investment.

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Palestine Finance for Jobs (F4J)

One of the most important political, social, and economic challenges facing Palestine today is the lack of sustainable and productive employment opportunities for the state’s growing population. Creating more jobs for women, youth, and marginalized people in particular is seen as one of the most effective paths toward reducing overall poverty in Palestine.

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