Seven months ago, I made a leap from the nonprofit sector to join Cisco’s Community Relations Team. I knew I’d be joining a company that places a high priority on investing in the communities where we live, work, learn, and play. What I underestimated, however, was Cisco’s investment in our people – including me.

At Cisco, every day brings new challenges, and I’m grateful to have a leader who continuously provides opportunities for me to grow personally and professionally. When given the chance to lead this year’s global Passion Project, I jumped at the opportunity. The Passion Project is part of Cisco’s annual Women of Impact conference an entire day devoted to the professional development of women, which is open to the public. It not only provides a great learning experience, it also opens the door for thousands of Cisconians like me to pay it forward, making a difference for women around the world.

Women. Poverty. Inclusion.
This year, 80% of Women of Impact attendees will take part in the Passion Project, working to end poverty globally with our partners:

  • Kiva which eradicates extreme poverty globally through micro-lending to allow people to create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. Women make up 81% of Kiva’s borrowers worldwide.
  • Global Citizen which is building a movement of 100M action-taking Global Citizens to help achieve a vision of ending extreme poverty by 2030. More than 3.4M (23%) of actions taken have addressed issues affecting girls & women around the world.

For me, this project is personal. In 2017, I made my first Kiva loan to a group of hardworking mothers and fathers with young children from Nicaragua. My $25 loan was pooled with 74 other lenders, and provided working capital so that Mary, the group’s leader, could stock her grocery store with products such as rice, beans, sugar, milk, and bread. She has created a sustainable income for her family, and that loan was repaid in full in 11 months. Rather than requesting my funds be returned, I chose to reinvest in other Kiva borrowers, amplifying the impact of my initial investment.

To take part in the Passion Project, Cisco employees are encouraged to register now for the March 5th Women of Impact conference (a free event taking place in 110 sites across 52 countries), and there is a live broadcast available in 5 different times zones that the general public can register to attend. Attendees have the choice to support the project in their own way: by making a monetary donation, devoting time to a Kiva Empathy & Gratitude activity, activating for long-term impact, or all three! Additionally, this year’s project lays the groundwork of inclusivity, allowing for remote participation as well.

To get more information on our Passion Project and Cisco’s culture of giving back, employees – and the general public – are invited to join our March 4th CiscoLive! Chat (10am Pacific Time) on our #Cisco YouTube channel https://lnkd.in/gEcDBTT . This televised program, titled “Making an Impact: Building Bridges Between Hope & Possible,” will feature Cisco executives in a live panel discussion with ambassadors from our Cisco Networking Academy and representatives from Kiva, with live audience Q&A.

Join me
Cisco and my manager have invested so much in my growth. Now, more than ever, I see the value in investing and supporting fellow women around the world. Whether you’re attending Women of Impact in person or tuning in remotely, I hope you’ll join me in supporting the 2019 Passion Project. (Register now as an employee or external guest.)

For more information, Cisco employees can visit cs.co/2019passionproject.


Gina Andersen

Community Relations Manager

OIC, Community Relations