Anyone who has seen Cisco EVP Wim Elfrink in the flesh knows he has an infectious enthusiasm for innovation. So perhaps it is not surprising that the Cisco Chief Globalisation Officer’s no-holding-back attitude has spawned a new approach to learning in rural India.
Elfrink uprooted from San Jose, CA, to Bangalore in India in 2006 to head up Cisco’s Globalisation Centre East and since then has been a fierce advocate of collaboration tools such as Cisco TelePresence and Unified Communications as a means of cutting down on business travel.
Paradoxically, though, a business trip has triggered a new application for this very type of technology.
While visiting Chhindwara in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Elfrink challenged a group of young people to come up with business ideas for possible Cisco sponsorship—and the winning concept involved using Cisco WebEx collaboration tools to improve learning in the region.
Documented in a video and a feature on News@Cisco, the story of how Elfrink’s encouragement and a team of Cisco mentors helped three young Indians set up the Lakshya Network in Chhindwara is one that should interest educators and entrepreneurs worldwide.
I also think it is a great example of something Cisco does rather well, which is to link technology with education in order to help create wealth and opportunities in local communities. Witness what the company has done elsewhere with the Networking Academy and the Entrepreneur Institute.
But it will be interesting to see what happens if and when Cisco starts to apply innovation-fostering measures to other global challenges, such as environmental sustainability. What do you think?