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Internet-Powered Jobs Transform Impoverished Youth into Lifelong Workers

This blog was originally published on the Huffington Post

I recently spent two weeks in Uganda and Kenya, meeting with nonprofit organizations that are applying technology-based solutions to help underserved populations access the knowledge, skills, and financial products and services they need to become economically self-sufficient. I lead the economic empowerment portfolio for Cisco and the Cisco Foundation, so it was an opportunity to get an up-close view of the progress and impact of our investments.

Let’s put this into perspective: When we talk about underserved populations in developing countries, we are talking about people who are living on less than $3 a day. They may have never had a formal job and most likely have, at most, a high school education. They don’t have a bank account, they may live in a slum, and they may not have enough money to eat three meals a day.

To permanently break the cycle of poverty, these people need a life-changing experience. One that will help them develop skills they need to get jobs, earn good salaries, and be supporters and role models for their families and communities.

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Shared Value Benefits Society and Business

July 30, 2013 at 7:00 am PST

The Shared Value Initiative just released a video interview of  Cisco Corporate Affairs Senior Director Kathy Mulvany, taken during the Global Shared Value Leadership Summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The term “shared value” is the concept that a company can enhance its own competitiveness while simultaneously alleviating social problems in the communities where it operates. What differentiates shared value from other initiatives is that it is far more sustainable than simply writing a check, than more traditional philanthropy, according to Kathy. “We really believe that if you are going to be able to maintain over the long run in driving community investment and building healthy markets for your products and services, that shared value provides a framework by which you can do that,” she says in the video interview.

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One of the most important elements of shared value is building strategic relationships. The world today faces some major social challenges that cannot be addressed by one stakeholder alone. Business, governments, and nonprofits need to work together to create organizations and communities where people can thrive.

Want to learn more about share value? Visit the Shared Value Initiative or read Kathy’s blog on creating shared value through local cluster development.

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4 Steps to Write the Perfect Pitch for Your Start-Up

July 29, 2013 at 8:00 am PST

In every sales training I have attended, this question is always posed to me: “You meet the CIO in the corridor, how do you get a meeting with him?” To be honest, there is not a huge difference in how you answer this question whether you are a start-up seeking an investor or the attention of a mentor.

Being a business mentor for both Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway and RAPTOR research and development project, I have attended a lot of start-up events and met a lot of business owners. When I meet people for the first time, I always ask them to tell me about their start-up or business. This is exactly the type of question the start-ups pitching for the IDEALondon competition will have to be prepared for.

Cisco opened the IDEALondon competition for start-ups attending the Wired Money event earlier this month. This event, a partnership between Wired UK and Cisco, introduced the innovators transforming finance in the digital age, brought together entrepreneurs reinventing the financial industry, and highlighted the trends and risks that will shape innovation and define the future.

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Networking was a key component of the Cisco-Wired Money event

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Cisco Among Top Bay Area Philanthropists

July 26, 2013 at 8:00 am PST

Cisco was recognized yesterday by the San Francisco Business Times as #6 on its list of Top Corporate Philanthropists in the Greater Bay Area.

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Cisco has a long history of supporting the communities where its employees live and work.

For example, one of Cisco’s longest-running traditions is a special program for Bay Area nonprofits, which has offered Community Impact Cash Grants to carefully selected community organizations for more than a decade. In recent years, the grant amount has been set at $15,000 each for programs focused on K-8 education and health. Cisco employee volunteers drive every aspect of the grantmaking process – from evaluating the applications to performing site visits to identifying the strongest applicants from a large and worthy pool.

Cisco gave $12.3 million to Bay Area-based charities in fiscal year 2012.

Read more about our current grantees at csr.cisco.com.

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Girl Scouts Wowed by Cisco Technology

Members of my Global Delivery Center (GDC) Public Sector Team at Cisco’s campus in North Carolina recently spent an evening with more than 60 Girl Scouts, who all have a passion in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Girl Scouts, North Carolina Coastal Pines (GS-NCCP) serves girls and adults in 41 counties in central and eastern North Carolina. Through this program, girls develop leadership skills while learning the important of personal responsibility, the value of goal setting, the spirit of teamwork, and the thrill of accomplishment.

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The girls visited Cisco on July 18, when 15 Cisco employees and college interns gave them a tour of Cisco’s lab, TelePresence technology, and Security Operations. The Public Sector team led the TelePresence portion of the night, during which Cisco’s TelePresence technology was shown off to the girls with an exciting game of charades and Pictionary.

RTP_GS_2At the end of the game, we shared with the girls how the TelePresence technology is used during our day-to-day lives at Cisco. They were amazed to hear that we were able to meet with people in other states and countries all over the world with such ease.

Cisco’s Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Padmasree Warrior, recently wrote “Girls at a young age must have something that sparks their interest in technology or science.” As the Girl Scouts entered the conference room to see another group of Girl Scouts in another building on three large screens, they shouted out beyond disbelief, “Oh! They can hear us?” By the end of the night, with quotes like “I want one of these at my house!” it was easy to see that Cisco definitely sparked every Girl Scouts’ interest in technology.

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