There’s no better place to talk about bridging the gap to economic vitality in Latin America than in Miami, where the 6th annual eMerge Americas conference recently took place. eMerge brings together business and government leaders who are transforming industries, countries, and lives with innovative digital technology.

eMerge organizers purposefully located the conference in Miami, the “tech hub of the Americas,” because of its position as a cultural and commercial bridge between Latin America and the United States.

As a leader in digital transformation in the Americas, Cisco had a strong presence at this year’s conference. In a keynote discussion titled, “Education is the Bridge to Possible,” Cisco demonstrated our commitment to innovation, education, and corporate social responsibility as a way to provide opportunity for Latin America’s economy and people. The presentation featured Rebeca de la Vega, Cisco leader for the Cisco Networking Academy in Latin America and Lucia Acurio of Grupo Edutec, an educational technology company.

Cisco also facilitated eMerge’s VIP Lounge interviews about digital transformation with a diverse group of leaders, including: Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP; Jose Ramon Valente, Minister of Economy in Chile; and Angel Petisco, Miami-Dade County CIO.

According to the International Labour Organization, Latin America is the region with the widest gap between the skills that societies and economies require and those that schools and universities offer. No one county, city, or company can close this gap alone. Partnerships that include governments, nonprofits, and private companies are the key to increasing digital readiness in Latin America.

These partnerships are also critical to provide the digital skills training Latin Americans need to compete in the global economy. At eMerge, Cisco showcased some great examples of innovation and partnerships that are making this happen in Latin America.

For instance, Cisco and the Colombian government recently announced joint efforts to fund and develop secure digital solutions to address key social and economic goals in Colombia through the Cisco Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program. The program will advance Colombians’ quality of life, create jobs and workforce education, and enhance global economic competitiveness.

Another example, is the Networking Academy, which continues to partner with hundreds of Latin American educational institutions (10,400 institutions worldwide) and government leaders to teach the technical and entrepreneurial skills that people, educators, and companies need to change the world for the better.

At eMerge, we heard a story that demonstrates how these programs can make a tangible, positive impact on people’s lives. Uriel Bayona was a penniless orphan on the streets of Durango, Mexico. He scraped together enough money to pay for an education at the Polytechnic University of Durango, where he learned Cisco networking skills through the Networking Academy. Today, Bayona oversees the network for the State of Durango’s Superior Court of Justice. And he is in the process of becoming a Networking Academy instructor so that he can help others make a better life for themselves.

Digitizing education prepares students with skills to land technical jobs, and ultimately make Latin American companies more competitive in a global marketplace. With the right training, Latin Americans of all ages, genders, and backgrounds can build a bridge to a better future.

I am very happy to be part of Cisco, a company that is helping communities both large and small turn dreams into realities.

Visit our Networking Academy website to see how Cisco is bridging the gap to economic vitality for students around the world.


Jordi Botifoll

No Longer with Cisco