DAI Washington traces its origins to 1970, when three graduates of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University combined their savings, aspirations, and career goals to establish a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., focusing on market-based approaches to economic development. DAI Washington's founders were bold and persistent. They named the company “Development Alternatives, Inc.”—now known simply as DAI—to emphasize their commitment to innovation and new ways of solving problems.
In the late 1970s, DAI took the key findings from this research and applied them to the design of more than a dozen rural development projects for USAID, our principal client. By 1980, we had competed successfully for project implementation contracts in Sudan, Congo, Tanzania, and Indonesia, and placed long-term and short-term advisors at remote locations in all four countries. These contracts increased our revenue, allowed us to expand our technical knowledge, and enhanced our capacity to support, supervise, and communicate with projects on a 24-7 basis across the globe.
Since 1970, DAI has worked in 150 developing and transition countries. Today, 350 DAI staff work at our Bethesda head office (just outside Washington, D.C.) and many more are on assignment at project sites in more than 60 countries. Our contract portfolio is diverse, covering technical disciplines across the spectrum of economic, social, and institutional development, including 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, avian influenza control, water and natural resources management, and energy and climate change.
Many of these contracts are implemented in very challenging environments, including African, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian countries emerging from political or military conflict.
At the end of 2005, the DAI Employee Stock Ownership Plan became the sole owner of the company's stock, resulting in a structure that aligns DAI's financial health with the long-term retirement savings of our employees. We treasure our independence, and believe that it allows us to serve our clients' interests and foster sustainable development outcomes wherever we are working.