Cisco Blogs

Fostering E-Learning with Collaboration Technology in Rural India

December 21, 2009 - 3 Comments

Anyone who has seen Cisco EVP Wim Elfrink in the flesh knows he has an infectious enthusiasm for innovation. So perhaps it is not surprising that the Cisco Chief Globalisation Officer’s no-holding-back attitude has spawned a new approach to learning in rural India.

Elfrink uprooted from San Jose, CA, to Bangalore in India in 2006 to head up Cisco’s Globalisation Centre East and since then has been a fierce advocate of collaboration tools such as Cisco TelePresence and Unified Communications as a means of cutting down on business travel.

Paradoxically, though, a business trip has triggered a new application for this very type of technology.

While visiting Chhindwara in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Elfrink challenged a group of young people to come up with business ideas for possible Cisco sponsorship—and the winning concept involved using Cisco WebEx collaboration tools to improve learning in the region. 

Documented in a video and a feature on News@Cisco, the story of how Elfrink’s encouragement and a team of Cisco mentors helped three young Indians set up the Lakshya Network in Chhindwara is one that should interest educators and entrepreneurs worldwide.

I also think it is a great example of something Cisco does rather well, which is to link technology with education in order to help create wealth and opportunities in local communities. Witness what the company has done elsewhere with the Networking Academy and the Entrepreneur Institute.

Of course, Cisco Chief Executive Officer John Chambers is a strong believer in the power of learning and so a focus on education is almost part of the company’s DNA.

But it will be interesting to see what happens if and when Cisco starts to apply innovation-fostering measures to other global challenges, such as environmental sustainability. What do you think?

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Congratulations to Cisco for being participative in making life better for everyone in making use of technology in every aspect of life. Its a good thing to know that there is a company that has a genuine concern for anyone else in the world.

  2. Cisco TelePresence solutions create an immersive, in-person meetingexperience among geographically dispersed users over a network.Cisco TelePresence to build and maintain critical businessrelationships. People can easily meet without the cost, productivitychallenges, and time spent away from home and family normallyassociated with business travel.Thanks Cisco.

  3. It's great when people start using modern technology to assist those in struggling, third-world countries. One man's method is providing small micro loans"" to the people so they can start some small businesses. This will give these people money and will allow them to higher others as employees, in turn giving them money.Although this method does not involve high-technology, it is effective none-the-less."