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Mission & Values

DAI’s mission is to make a lasting difference in the world by helping people improve their lives. We envision a world in which communities and societies become more prosperous, fairer and better governed, safer, healthier, and environmentally more sustainable.

To achieve this mission, we must be a great place to work and we must be a successful business. We need to attract and retain extraordinary talent, and provide our team with professional opportunity, fair salary and benefits, and a healthy work-life balance. We also must perform as a business so that we can meet our obligations, invest in our future, and reward our employee owners. The more successful we are as a business, the greater development impact we can have.

In everything we do, we live by four core values:

  • Integrity: we have an uncompromising commitment to civility and ethical behavior. We play by the rules and do the right thing.
  • Responsibility: we are accountable to our clients, our colleagues, and the communities where we work. If we fall short, we own up, fix the problem, and get it right the next time.
  • Excellence: we demand of ourselves the highest technical and professional standards. We celebrate innovation, learning, and service. We have an unwavering desire to “stretch,” as individuals and as an organization.
  • Global Citizenship: we are a global company with a global outlook. We depend on our diversity and inclusiveness, respect the cultures in which we work, and treat everyone, everywhere with professionalism and dignity. We thrive on collaboration with our partners around the world, and share with them the hope that our work will leave the world a better place.

DAI Shaping a more livable world.


DAI was founded in 1970 by three graduates of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government intent on providing a more dynamic and effective brand of development assistance.

Employee-owned DAI is now a global development company with a record of delivering results in 160 countries. But it remains today what it was as a start-up: innovative, alert, self-critical, and forward-looking—and driven by a powerful sense of corporate purpose. Our mission remains essentially unchanged from the days of the founders.

A Consistent Mission

DAI’s mission is to make a lasting difference in the world by helping people improve their lives. We envision a world in which communities and societies become more prosperous, fairer and better governed, safer, healthier, and environmentally more sustainable.

DAI made its earliest mark through a series of analytical studies. In 1973, we won a contract to analyze 36 U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) projects in Latin America and Africa.

The resulting study, Strategies for Small Farmer Development, cemented the firm’s growing reputation, and we built on this momentum to seek more substantial assignments implementing projects in the field. Our first major project was to revitalize the agricultural economy in the North Shaba region of Zaire. Other implementation initiatives in rural and agricultural development followed in Sudan and elsewhere.

Tony Barclay, a Ph.D. anthropologist who did his field work in Kenya, joined the firm in 1977 to help implement the North Shaba program, and quickly rose through the ranks. He became company President in 1990 and served as CEO from 1999 to 2008. In his last year as CEO, Barclay was named Executive of the Year at the annual Government Contractor Awards.

Among a new generation of DAI employees joining the firm in the 1980s was current CEO Jim Boomgard, a Ph.D. agricultural economist who played a key role in developing an approach to small business promotion in developing countries and managed a landmark multicountry study called Growth and Equity through Micro-enterprise Investments and Institutions (GEMINI).

Responding to Global Transformations

At the start of the 1990s, the collapse of the Soviet Union led to enterprise development, privatization, and governance projects for DAI in Eastern Europe. DAI also added a banking and financial services unit around this time. In 1995, we invested in London, U.K.-based Graham Bannock & Partners Ltd., which would go on to give DAI what is now a thriving presence as an implementing partner for British and European clients.

Following the 9/11 attacks of 2001 and the subsequent U.S. military actions, DAI was called on to lead a variety of challenging development projects in Afghanistan, a country where we worked as early as 1977. Similarly, after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, DAI won a project to help provide legitimate governance in the country. Other assignments in Iraq covered agriculture and, famously, the restoration of the Iraqi Marshlands.

The middle years of the decade also saw the company innovating in the health arena. As avian influenza (AI) emerged as a pandemic threat, we launched an AI practice at the intersection of our work in animal health, agriculture, community engagement, HIV/AIDS, and crisis response. The firm won USAID’s flagship AI control program, STOP AI, then RESPOND—a broader program that built the capacity of institutions in developing nations to respond to pandemic threats—Strategies Against Flu Emergence (SAFE), the global Preparedness & Response project, and the U.K.-funded Tackling Deadly Diseases in Africa Programme.

With the emergence of COVID-19, DAI brought this expertise to bear as part of the pandemic response across its worldwide portfolio.

At the start of 2009, Jim Boomgard became DAI’s new CEO. The next year DAI celebrated its 40th birthday by publishing a 40 year retrospective.

The First 40: A History of DAI

“The next 10 years will determine whether we can make an American success story into a global success story,” wrote Boomgard in his foreword to the book. “Over the next 10 years, we’ll execute a new strategy designed to bring our strengths, our experience, and our commitment to a changing and in many ways expanding landscape of international development—a landscape that will see more development driven from the ground up, more decision making in countries that have traditionally been the recipients of donor assistance, and a more diverse and influential array of local actors in the development arena.”

In 2013, DAI joined forces with the distinguished British consultancy HTSPE Ltd., in a combination that yielded enhanced capabilities and offered greater value for money to global—and especially European—development clients. Based out of our office in Apsley, Hertfordshire, DAI quickly became a top supplier in the United Kingdom, and we subsequently launched an office in Brussels to bring us closer to European clients.

We further expanded our European footprint in 2019 with the integration of Human Dynamics, a pre-eminent supplier of international development services in the European Commission market. Human Dynamics is headquartered in Vienna, Austria, but also operates out of Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

In recent years we have expanded our development services to commercial clients, facilitated by the acquisition of Local Content Solutions and the launch of our Sustainable Business Group in 2017. In 2020, DAI completed a majority investment in Magister Advisors, a specialist investment bank, to create DAI Magister, a venture that supports DAI’s efforts to mobilize commercial capital in emerging and frontier markets. Complementing DAI Magister’s investment advisory services, DAI in 2021 acquired MicroVest, our first asset management business.

And we are steadily expanding our presence in the health arena, guided by a vision of tech-enabled, data-centric services to address the health and development challenges of the 21st century. In line with this vision, we have made strategic investments in digital health startups—ThinkMD, MobileODT, and ClickMedix—and we welcomed Health Partners International to the DAI team in June 2017.

DAI’s global employee owners celebrated the firm’s 50th anniversary in 2020. As a global development company, we continue looking for ways to connect with customers across sectors and geographies, learn from them in ways that inform our work across clients and disciplines, and enhance our value as a global resource for diverse development actors.
“DAI is the only company in the world that can credibly claim to be a top-3 supplier in the USAID, DFID, and EC marketplace for development services,” wrote Boomgard in 2019, in his annual end-of-year letter to staff. “That prospect was inconceivable 50 years ago and improbable as recently as 15 years ago….Today it is reality.”

Our Team

Multicultural, multilingual, and multidisciplinary to the core—global in outlook and approach—DAI’s technical leaders are steeped in the challenges of delivering development solutions in the field. They are committed to sharing our innovation and experience to inform international development practices worldwide.

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Since : 01-01-1970
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