One billion.

That’s a number I’m sure you’ve heard around Cisco before.

If you haven’t, it’s the number of people we want to positively impact by 2025.

To meet our goal, Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team has put a number of programs in place, including but not limited to, Cisco Networking Academy, which has trained more than 9.2 million students, and our grant support for nonprofits, which has positively impacted more than 440 million people in three years.

One of the programs I’m most excited about is the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge.

Our mission with this competition is to provide visibility, funding and encouragement to help student social entrepreneurs advance their innovations to the world’s biggest problems. In the past two years, we’ve received more than 3,000 students and recent grads register from more than 850 schools across six continents. Since then, we’ve awarded 20 teams $600,000.

The 2019 challenge launched in October, and we’re accepting applications from students and recent grads until January 11.

Semi-finalists will be invited to submit another round of questions on February 25 and the window will close for this round on March 29.

Next, the People’s Choice Voting begins on April 29 and runs through to May 17. Winners will be announced on May 20, 2019.

We’d more than appreciate you spreading the word to any innovative social entrepreneurs enrolled in colleges (or recently graduated from colleges) across the globe. (Please note: Cisco employees and their kin aren’t eligible to apply.)

At this point, you’re probably wondering a lot of things, especially, what a winning solution looks like. Keep reading to find out.

Note: All videos are the winners’ original pitch videos. We hope this helps people craft better pitches and increase their odds of being selected.

Project Vive


Problem: There are 4.5 million people who have the form of cerebral palsy (ALS) that results in the inability to speak.

Solution: The Voz Box is a cost-effective wearable device that uses motion sensors to give a voice to those who can’t communicate.



Problem: About 0.75 million neonates die every year in India, the highest for any country in the world. The heterogeneity in health service coverage has a significant role in producing inequitable health outcomes.

A recently published systematic review on inequity in maternal health in India highlighted the fact that women of some population groups remained systematically and consistently disadvantaged in terms of access to and use of maternal and reproductive health services, including safe delivery and antenatal care services. (source)

Solution: CareNX developed Feton, which is a smartphone based fetal heart rate monitor. It enables a fetal health assessment that’s available anytime, anywhere, to anyone.




There are more than one billion children living in poverty, and 264 million of them are out of school.

While the 2015 earthquake in Nepal had immediate and obvious impact, the longer-term effects have been significant. Thousands of schools were damaged or fully destroyed, and few schools have been rebuilt after the earthquake. Even for the schools that have been rebuilt, it remains a challenge for children to attend due to logistical considerations.

In addition, 37 percent of girls are getting married off before the age of 18, because their education isn’t providing them with the skills they need to succeed.

Solution: The Jara Unit is a low-cost, personal crank-and-solar powered tablet that provides a geographically customized education to refugees and those in other disaster-affected regions. No classroom required.

Share the GPS Challenge with social entrepreneurs solving the world’s biggest problems.

To make it super easy for you, here’s a pre-made social post (see below) as well as a link to our promotional toolkit for you to share on your platform(s) of choice:

“What could your startup do with an extra $100,000? @CiscoCSR is looking for students and recent grads with innovative tech solutions to problems around the globe. Learn more here. http://bit.ly/ciscocsr

Thank you for your support!



Mary de Wysocki

SVP & Chief Sustainability Officer

Chief Sustainability Office