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How Mobile Phones Are Driving Business and Social Impact

If you look around and think everyone has a mobile phone, you’re right. There are almost as many mobile subscriptions (6.8 billion) as there are people in the world (7.1 billion), according to the International Telecommunication Union.

Even in developing countries, the mobile penetration rate (the number of mobile phone numbers within a specific population) is 89 percent. Between 2011 to 2016, the number of mobile phones in Africa is expected to double from 500 million to 1 billion–nearly the entire population. But how are we all using our mobile phones?

What we’re learning is that a mobile phone can transform someone’s life, especially for underserved populations and/or those living in remote locations. They enable financial inclusion for the 1.8 billion people with access to a phone but not a bank. They provide farmers with information on market prices and weather reports, and they link micro and small entrepreneurs to markets and potential buyers. And, they provide mothers with important information to keep themselves and their children healthy. All this relevant and actionable information is getting to people who aren’t able to access this type of information via the Internet or in person.

Belinda and her child never fell sick during and after her pregnancy, thanks to messages that she received that told her about proper nutrition and exclusive breastfeeding. Photo courtesy Grameen Foundation

Belinda and her child never fell sick during and after her pregnancy, thanks to messages that she received that told her about proper nutrition and exclusive breastfeeding. Photo courtesy Grameen Foundation

But we’re also learning that organizations — large, for-profit corporations and small, nonprofit social enterprises alike — are using mobile technology to operate better and smarter. Organizations are using mobile phones to gather real-time data that help them make informed business decisions and that yield social impact.

Let me introduce you to two organizations that have developed innovative technology tools that are driving this double bottom line business and social impact.

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Is Your Nonprofit Using Human and Technology Networks to Multiply Impact?

April 10, 2012 at 9:23 am PST

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in San Francisco. Hosted annually by the Nonprofit Technology Network, the conference is a gold mine of professional development and relationship-building opportunities for nonprofit staff who use technology for marketing, fundraising, operations, program delivery, and more.

Nonprofit Technology Conference

Cisco sponsored the Ignite Reception at NTC, where attendees had 5 minutes and 20 slides to talk about how their nonprofits are using technology.

Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts operate at this intersection of human and technology networks, too. We know that by working with nonprofits, government agencies, or other businesses, we can accomplish much more than we could alone. And, by adding technology to the equation, we can multiply our impact even further.

Many nonprofits have similar experiences. They are collaborating--and using innovative, network-enabled technologies--to reach more people with better services.

If you work for a nonprofit that has used human and technology networks to multiply your impact, we want to hear your story.

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The Revolutionary Potential of Mobile Media

January 27, 2011 at 7:22 am PST

We’ve all seen the amazing innovation and mass adoption of mobile apps like Groupon, Foursquare and Yelp, but I’m starting to believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg. With mobile penetration in the developing world far surpassing wired, innovative people are beginning to use seemingly simple technology like SMS to drastically improve people’s lives.

Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database.

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