Focus on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – Part 1

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966, and headquartered in the city of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines. The bank also maintains 31 field offices around the world to promote social and economic development in Asia. The bank admits the members of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries. Canada is a member. From 31 members at its establishment, ADB now has 68 members.

The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank.

The ADB funds multiple projects in Asia and the Pacific and I had the privilege of working on such a project in Sri Lanka, as a consultant with GOPA, a German consulting firm. The bank advertises consulting opportunities for both individuals and companies. Most of these requests for individual consultants are for nationals, for example, in Viet Nam, the project would seek Vietnamese nationals. But there is often a sprinkling of requests for international consultants. My project was in technical, vocational education and training (TVET) which falls under the umbrella of “Education” in the categories of projects the ADB supports.

To learn more about the bank, its mission and activities, I recommend that you visit its main website which contains links to its structure, projects, partners, financing and more.

How to Engage with the ADB?

There are many ways to engage with the ADB. Check the tab “Work with Us” on the ADB Main page, and the following screen appears. Click on an item to explore your particular interest.

My post today focuses on opportunities for individuals who would like to explore assignments as a consultant working on ADB projects.


If you click “Consultants” on the above page, the system takes you to a list of frequently asked questions. Select “How can I become adb consultant” and you are taken to a page with a ream of useful information.

Here is what part of this page says.

Information for independent consultants

ADB engages individual consultants and consulting entities (firms, universities, NGOs, etc.) for a wide range of assignments. Individuals wishing to consult for ADB must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen of an ADB member country
  • Not be barred from working with ADB, World Bank or ADB’s member countries
  • Not be a close family member (other than spouse) of an ADB employee

Additional criteria for government officials and civil servants

In addition to the above, government officials and civil servants must also meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be on leave of absence without pay
  • Not be hired by the agency they were working for immediately before going on leave
  • Not create a conflict of interest through their ADB consulting work

Next steps

There is plenty to study in the links posted above and I invite you to explore them on your own.

Reality Check

My experience applying to the ADB as an individual Canadian consultant has not been encouraging. The selection process is rigorous and my sense (unproven) is the staff who select consultants develop a cadre of favorites into which it is hard to enter. My work in Sri Lanka was conducted as part of a consulting firm’s bid and for many new consultants contacting companies short-listed for ADB assignments, may be a better alternative.

My next post will provide some advice on pursuing this option.


Author: arthureshears

Passionate about writing, international development and travel

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