As Deputy Director of the Cisco Foundation, I am fortunate to be at the center of investing our technology, expertise, and cash grants to empower global problem solvers that make a positive impact on our world. Last year alone, our investments in innovative digital solutions positively impacted 154 million people in some of the most economically underserved parts of the world. We are committed to positively impacting 1 billion people by 2025 and have reached 232 million people to date.  

I am happy to share the expansion of one such global problem solver — Anudip Foundation — who is changing the lives of youth, families, and communities across India, and now the United States. Through Anudip’s proven training model, the organization has enabled low-income youth and women to develop critical digital and workplace skills, transition into technology-enabled jobs or self-employment, and significantly change their life path.

Since 2009, Anudip has equipped more than 80,000 people in India with marketable skills. In fact, 75% of participants obtain jobs, experiencing a threefold increase in family income and setting them on a path to financial stability and self-sufficiency.  More than simply obtaining a job, they leave Anudip equipped with the professional and technical skills to have a long-term and meaningful career.

From India to New Orleans

In 2017, Anudip recognized the opportunity to bring this model to urban, minority, at-risk youth in the United States, starting with New Orleans. From India to New Orleans may not seem like a natural transition, however, there are some striking similarities that relate to Anudip’s mission: a rapidly growing technology sector, more and more tech-savvy individuals, an expanding skills gap, and the presence of low-income, underserved communities in need of a path to financial inclusion.

For example, with a lower cost of living and rich cultural history, New Orleans is becoming a natural destination for creatives and innovators, and a hot spot for technology companies. It has one of the fastest growing technology job markets in the United States and the number of tech jobs has grown by more than 35% since 2012. At the same time, while educational attainment is improving[1], poverty rates have also increased, highlighting an opportunity to connect people to these jobs.

Why are we investing in Anudip to support professionals in New Orleans? Because their model is thoughtful, informed by market data, and history has proven it works.

Since 2014, we have partnered with Anudip and witnessed the success of their research-driven training model. Through ethnographic surveys of locations, market scans of livelihood opportunities in the region, and long-term relations with employers, Anudip has developed a unique program that matches skills training to current job market needs. Additionally, innovative programs such as 3D Printing for Development expose students to cutting-edge IT skills, while inspiring them to strengthen their communities through impactful applications like 3D-printed prosthetics.

In 2018, Cisco funding will enable Anudip to establish two skills development centers in New Orleans. These pilots will incorporate the organization’s proven model and key learnings from India, and serve as the jumping-off point for large-scale expansion throughout the United States. All helping the organization reach its goal to generate 100,000 tech-driven careers by 2020.

Nearly all jobs in the future will require digital skills. Currently, 68% of IT decision makers globally say their teams face a shortage of skills[2] and 72% of CEOs say that availability of key skills is a threat to their organization’s growth prospects[3]. The opportunity is clear and preparing for this shift presents huge opportunities for underserved communities in the United States and across the world.

“All they need is a helping hand for the ability to get into the job market,” says Dipak Basu, CEO of Anudip Foundation.

For 33 years, Cisco has been at the center of digital transformation, making the connections that drive economic empowerment and change the trajectory of lives for the better.

Our technology network has built another network — one of global problem solvers and social change agents like Anudip who are creating a more inclusive world. We look forward to empowering global problem solvers in New Orleans and leveraging the power of digitization to transform lives for a community that so many across the world have come to love.

[1] The percentage of citizens with less than a high school degree has decreased since 2012 (25% to 14%).

[2] Global Knowledge, 2017

[3] PWC, 2016


Charu Adesnik

Executive Director, Cisco Foundation; Director, Social Innovation Investments