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How Grameen Foundation Connects the Unconnected

October 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm PST

The following blog was originally posted on the Grameen Foundation Insights Blog

Today, Cisco asked us all to share our vision of how the Internet of Everything can improve our world, by “connecting the unconnected.”

Like Cisco, we believe that human networks and technology can play a significant role in transforming people’s lives. At Grameen Foundation, our mission is to connect the world’s poor to their potential. Poor people are already resourceful, clever, and hard working. They have to be in order to survive. So imagine if we could connect their ingenuity to tools and information designed specifically with their needs in mind. In fact, we do that every day.

Here are four examples of the amazing things that happen when you connect the unconnected.

Connecting Poor People to Savings Accounts

Most banks don’t reach the rural poor to offer them a safe, convenient way to manage their savings. Grameen Foundation works with microfinance banks in India and the Philippines to offer mobile phone accessible microsavings products for the poor, reaching more than 800,000 households since 2010.

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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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Molto Bene! Employees at Cisco Italy Exemplify Volunteer Engagement

May 18, 2012 at 10:04 am PST

In the summer of 2010, Veronica Recanati, Security Partner Account Manager for Cisco Italy, spent one month of paid time off volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania. It turned out to be a life-changing experience not just for her, but for many of her colleagues in Rome.

Cisco Italy at Glorious Orphanage in Tanzania

In Tanzania, Veronica realized just one euro could buy ten meals for children. She realized more help was needed, not just in Tanzania, but at home in Italy and around the world. And she realized she wanted be involved.

“It was like a bomb that exploded in my head,” Veronica says. “I wanted to use my experience with Cisco to help.”

Today, Veronica is part of a very active Italy Civic Council – a group of Cisco employees that leads volunteer and charitable activities at the local level.

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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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Efficient Giving

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that US manufacturing productivity’s average annual rate of growth (AARG) from 2007 to 2010 is 2.0%. In addition, the report cited that from Jan 1972 to August 2010, the number of people employed in US manufacturing jobs fell from 17,500,000 to 11,500,000 while manufacturing value rose 270%.

Upon reading these statistics, I began to reflect on how technology has radically changed every facet of how we live, work, and connect with each other. I began to ponder, if we could measure and plot our country’s “compassion curve” against the Information Age (circa 1975 – present) would it reflect the same growth and efficiency gains that have been realized by our manufacturing sector? Could we conclude that our society has become increasingly more insensitive and greedy, or more compassionate and giving? Read More »

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