We know that the most vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of global crises, and continue to be impacted after a crisis is over. Those who are unemployed or underemployed. Small business owners. Women. The poor. People who are un/underbanked. At Cisco, we bring to bear all our available resources – our funding, our technology, and our expertise – to support nonprofit organizations that have technology-based solutions to connect the unconnected and help people become economically self-sufficient.

Cisco’s model of investing in innovative organizations with early-stage, technology-based initiatives means that our nonprofit partners are already using technology to deliver many of their programs and services. This has enabled them to quickly pivot to deliver different types of services to address new and emerging needs, and also to rapidly accelerate their reach to meet increased needs of the individuals and communities they are serving.

These are some of nonprofits Cisco supports through our economic empowerment portfolio, and how they are responding to support people and communities in need right now:

Skills Training

Anudip logoAnudip:  Provides technology skills training, professional development skills, mentoring, and employment opportunities to low-income and underserved populations (youth, women, people with disabilities) in India, delivered both face-to-face and online. Cisco has supported Anudip’s work with cash grant investments, donations of WebEx and other Cisco technologies, and our expertise. How are they helping? Anudip has temporarily transitioned their services to 100 percent remote learning.

AnnieCannons logoAnnieCannons:  Provides technology skills training, professional development skills, mentoring, and employment opportunities to survivors of human trafficking in the Bay Area of California. We have supported AnnieCannons with cash grant investments, and donations of WebEx and other Cisco technologies. How are they helping? AnnieCannons has temporarily transitioned its online technology skills training to 100% remote learning.  In addition, their staff have increased their outreach to human trafficking and domestic violence survivors who are particularly vulnerable during times of crises.

Upwardly Global logoUpwardly Global (UpGlo):  Provides training and support to skilled refugees and immigrants to eliminate barriers and help them integrate into the professional American workforce. Cisco has supported this work via an initial cash grant investment, and we are partnering to support virtual networking and mentoring opportunities with our employees. How are they helping? UpGlo is scaling its online skills training and job readiness resources, enhancing virtual coaching and volunteer services, and helping clients find immediate jobs in high demand areas like healthcare.

Financial Inclusion

Opportunity International logoOpportunity International (Opportunity):  Provides financial products (regular and emergency loans, savings accounts, insurance) and services (capacity building for entrepreneurs, educators, farmers, and financial literacy training) to low income populations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. With Cisco support, Opportunity designed, implemented, and scaled mobile enabled financial products and services to more than 20 million people across Africa and Asia. How are they helping?  Access to these types of financial products and services is critically important for vulnerable populations who now are unemployed or without a steady source of income.

Kiva logoKiva: Expands financial access through its peer-to-peer lending platform that enables individuals to make interest-free loans to students and entrepreneurs globally. Small businesses are already being negatively impacted by the spread of COVID-19, including many members of the Kiva community. How are they helping? In the United States, Kiva is offering larger loans, flexible repayment schedules, and expanded eligibility. They are working to provide support to their partner financial institutions and individuals outside the United States.

Social Enterprise

Vispala logoVispala: Started by the CEO of Anudip, Vispala uses 3D printing technology to print low cost prosthetic arms for underserved populations in India. Cisco provided early stage funding to help them develop and test their products, scale, and become a financially sustainable social enterprise. How are they helping? They have now pivoted their focus to 3D printing face shields for healthcare providers.

NESsT logoNESsT: NESsT develops sustainable social enterprises that solve critical social problems in emerging market economies, like PIXED, a Peruvian social enterprise that manufactures 3D-printed prosthetics. How are they helping? PIXED has shifted its manufacturing of prostheses into personal protective equipment (PPE) for physicians and hospitals in Peru. NESsT is working closely with PIXED management (and all of its portfolio companies) to create contingency plans that address short- and longer-term needs that must be addressed during an impending global recession.

To accelerate global problem solving, we need financially sustainable solutions that address different issues in different parts of the world. That’s why Cisco invests in early-stage solutions that leverage technology to create meaningful impact at scale.

Our nonprofit partners in economic empowerment are able to quickly adapt to the way they serve others in order to address the biggest challenges that we face. To learn more about these amazing nonprofits and how you can get involved, please visit our economic empowerment page.


Charu Adesnik

Executive Director, Cisco Foundation; Director, Social Innovation Investments