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.
Silicon Savannah. Maybe you’ve heard this term (maybe you’ve even read why it’s a misnomer.) It has been coined to describe Nairobi, Kenya, the unofficial capital of the rapid rise of technology innovation in Africa.
Kenya is home to M-Pesa, the mobile money transfer service that is used by over 60% of the Kenyan population. It is also home to the iHub, an innovation and start-up incubator which appears to be increasingly like Silicon Valley in its ability to spin off successful, profitable technology companies.
Originally posted on the Huffington Post on 01/23/2013
Stephen Ondieki lives in Africa’s second-largest slum, Kibera in Kenya, where most residents earn less than US$1 a day. However, Stephen owns a computer repair shop that not only enables him to earn US$8 a day, but also to give back to his community by turning his shop into a hang-out spot for youth, whom he mentors and teaches about IT and networking. “They see me overcoming the same challenges they face and they’re motivated to try to make some changes themselves,” he says.
Stephen acquired his IT skills through training with the Cisco Networking Academy, a program that collaborates with organizations around the world to teach hundreds of thousands of students the skills needed to build, design, and maintain networks -- an increasingly crucial skill in an increasingly networked world.
Stephen Ondieki is a graduate of the academy at Raila Education Centre in Kibera.
Stephen’s success and community outreach in Kibera would not have been possible without reliable and affordable access to a broadband connection. For Stephen and for many other individuals in developing countries around the world, broadband connectivity acts as a powerful catalyst as well as an anchor for economic and social advancement.
FrontlineSMS grew out of a conviction that mobile could be a more powerful tool if it was made completely accessible to smaller teams and projects as a professional tool. Also known as text messaging, SMS is the most widespread digital communications platform to date and is still growing. The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Service Adoption Forecast predicts that 90% of global mobile subscribers will be using SMS by 2016, up from 74% in 2011.
UPDATE: Molly’s story was on CNN today (3/8/12). Take a look!
Today Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team had the unique privilege of bringing together two seemingly different groups of people: children who live in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya and their “video pen pals” in Rome. Cisco hosted the event using its TelePresence technology to support the World Food Programme’s video series “Molly’s World: A Girl Films Her Life in a Nairobi Slum.” (Learn more about the Molly’s World video series in my previous blog post.)
We multiplied the impact of this event by broadcasting it live to a worldwide audience via CiscoTV’s Ustream channel on the World Food Programme’s Facebook page. Children in classrooms from London to Brazil to Australia submitted questions through Facebook and Twitter, and Molly and her friends answered them live via Ustream. Read More »