Our History

For more than 20 years, Adam Smith International has worked with ministers, government officials and citizens to tackle some of the world’s most difficult challenges - the interlinking issues of growth generation, poverty alleviation, stabilisation, institutional strengthening and capacity building.

We were founded in 1992 in response to the growing international interest in practical advice on economic and government reform. Many organisations were advising governments on how to reform and why, but there was a gap in applying the thinking to the delivery of practical programmes that produced real results.

Our name derives from the relationship that one of our founders had with the Adam Smith Institute, but we are a wholly different, separate and independent organisation with our own objectives focused on tackling the toughest problems faced by governments and societies around the world.

Much of our initial work was in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, helping these states build functioning market economies and responsive and accountable governance structures after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We soon expanded into Asia, Africa and South America, advising on a wide variety of economic and government reforms. We played a key role in helping deliver successful state enterprise reform at state level in India and started a long and very influential programme of support to the Palestinians in their negotiations with Israel.

We were the first British international development consultancy in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban and supported the new government with numerous programmes, remaining the largest supplier of UK technical assistance since that time. We played a central role in the development of the Afghan state, not least by helping increase revenue ten-fold since 2002.

We were also the first international development company in Iraq in 2003 and carried out a range of critical tasks, notably the creation and development of new central government institutions and policy-making processes.

Our reputation for fast and effective response in difficult situations was further enhanced after we moved rapidly to establish the Prime Minister’s office in Kenya after the resolution of the political crisis.

Our private sector development services expanded significantly from 2008, with numerous programmes launched to tackle systemic barriers to private sector development in Nigeria, Nepal, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and most recently, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2011, we ran the Temporary Financing Mechanism in Libya, managing the delivery of $1bn for essential services at the height of the conflict. Our successes in managing and delivering complex and politically sensitive programmes at scale in countries such as Libya were a key factor in the award in 2013 of a major British-led programme, the Somalia Stability Fund, which Adam Smith International now manages from offices in Mogadishu and the regions of Somalia.

In recent years, we have developed service lines focused on revenue reform, security sector reform, extractive industries and education. Today we are the preeminent global adviser to governments on extractive industries governance and are amongst the largest UK providers of education advisory services in the developing world.  We have a diverse portfolio of security sector and justice reform projects centred primarily in East and Southern Africa and are the number one UK provider of technical assistance on revenue administration and reform with award-winning programmes across central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

We opened the first of three regional corporate offices in India in 2002, with Nairobi opening in 2008 to service the East Africa region, now a substantial operation with fifty employees.  In 2012, we established an office in Sydney in Australia to spearhead the development of programmes across Asia Pacific – we now have an extensive portfolio of initiatives focused on key regional development issues. Our team servicing the Middle East and North Africa is based in Amman in Jordan and in London, managing programmes across Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

Today, Adam Smith International has worked in over 100 countries and our experiences and results have led us to become a trusted leader in delivering a comprehensive range of sustainable and high impact programmes globally. Our focus on implementing pragmatic solutions has remained a constant throughout our history and we pride ourselves on bringing the best minds together to address some of the world’s most challenging issues.