Our Mission

To equip economic decision-makers in…emerging countries with the tools of commercial success.

— William Davidson, 1992


Businesses drive economic development and improve social welfare. They do this by producing products or services valued by customers above and beyond the cost of producing them. Profit- seeking firms that operate within the legal and ethical standards of their communities benefit society. And, since profits provide both the capital needed to grow and the incentive to grow, the magnitude of the social benefit correlates with the profitability of such businesses.

William Davidson, a successful global business leader and visionary, understood the value of profit-seeking firms. However, he also understood that business principles could be applied to organizations that were socially beneficial, but unlikely to be profitable. In light of this, Mr. Davidson established the William Davidson Institute (WDI) at the University of Michigan in 1992 with the mission “to equip economic decision makers in… emerging markets with the tools of commercial success.”

WDI continues to advance Mr. Davidson’s vision more than 25 years later. At WDI, we serve both profit-seeking and non-profit firms by creatively applying business skills in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We do this by a) conducting research and working with local partners to develop business models that are profitable in LMICs, and b) transferring business knowledge to decision makers operating in LMICs. We work with organizations focused on the education, energy, financial and healthcare sectors. We also offer management education programs, and measurement and evaluation services.

Learn more about our current projects, sectors and services, management education, U-M student opportunities and 25-year history.

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