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It seems like magic happens every time VST ECS, a Cisco distributor in the Philippines, and Cisco’s Black Belt Academy join hands. During the pandemic, the magic led to 300 PPE masks being distributed to hospitals. For Christmas of 2022, it meant that 170 children had smiles on their faces when they were surprised with Christmas gift baskets filled with canned goods, noodles, and chocolates to take home to augment their families’ Christmas dinners.

These children are Aeta, an indigenous people who live in remote, resource-poor villages in the Philippines. Their families send them from their mountain villages to the Aeta Children’s Home in the city of Zambales so they can take advantage of the free education offered there.

During the VST ECS “what should our year-end contest be?” brainstorming session, an executive who had done volunteer work with the Aeta Children’s Home nominated them as he knew that the Aeta children would be returning to their homes for the Christmas holiday break.

Corporate Social Responsibility activities become even more sustainable when they blend and integrate with the organization’s key business goals, resulting in a true Win-Win! – Gaurav Kumar Sharma, Cisco Black Belt Academy

With the Aeta children in mind, VST ECS created a plan to “do good” while motivating the partner community. In November 2022, they launched a month-long “Black Belt Certification for a Cause” contest for their partner community. The challenge: for each Black Belt Certification earned by employees of any VST ECS partner during the month, the distributor would donate a Christmas gift basket to these children. Partnering for Purpose, indeed.

Between philanthropy & profitability a Black Belt smile initiative is the bridge

VST ECS wanted to motivate their partner community to gain more certifications–whether for engineer or sales staff–because they knew that the certifications lead to skill, knowledge, and confidence in selling Cisco solutions.

So the distributor launched the “Certification for a Cause” contest, knowing it would be a win-win for the children, for the partner community, and ultimately for them. The response was fantastic! In a single month, the Black Belt Academy issued 150 certifications to 30 employees–30 employees who became proficient in Meraki, Enterprise Networking, Collaboration, and Security. One enthusiastic participant got 8 certifications!

For this program, VST ECS served as a bridge of help to the Aetas. And also to the partner community, helping them to gain knowledge and familiarity with the Cisco solutions. –  Dominic Joss Rosol, SE, ePLDT, Inc., and Black Belt Certification for a Cause participant

children from Atea Children's Home with their Christmas gift baskets
VST ECS & Cisco Black Belt Academy helped provide 170 children with Christmas gift baskets in 2022

Getting 150 certifications was great. But. At the last minute, they realized that there were 170 children. The quickly deployed solution to this gap was another example of partnering for purpose: multiple “beautiful-hearted” executives and staff of VST ECS and Cisco Philippines chipped in for 20 more baskets so that no child returned home empty-handed.

The results: 170 gift baskets were delivered to excited children as they headed to their mountain villages and the arms of their families. The 30 Black Belt students were also rewarded: at a virtual graduation ceremony held in December, each new Black Belt expert was recognized, then sent a gift certificate for a local food delivery app plus a VST ECS/Cisco logo jacket. The ultimate result, of course, was that VST ECS developed greater engagement and goodwill throughout their partner community.

The children are back at Aeta Children’s Home now, with happy memories of abundant Christmas dinners, while 30 members of the VST ECS partner community are leveraging their new Black Belt Academy knowledge for success. And VST ECS is already planning for more magic in 2023.


Learn how you can join VST ECS, Cisco, and others

in Partnering for Purpose by visiting the SalesConnect Hub


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Gaurav Sharma

Leader, Black Belt Academy APJC

Enablement Operations

Debbie Clasen

Director, Partner Experience & Amplification

Global Partner and Routes to Market Sales