Cisco Invests In Fostering Entrepreneurship, Social Initiatives

Fostering Entrepreneurship

Cisco is using its technology and expertise to accelerate to highlight its various initiatives and programs to positively impact 50 million beneficiaries in India by 2025. This goal is aligned to Cisco’s global vision of impacting 1 billion lives worldwide by 2025 through digital solutions.

At its annual Cisco Summit 2018 in Goa this year, as part of its philanthropic and Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, Cisco highlighted the critical role information and communication technology (ICT) and public-private partnerships play to accelerate global problem solving and positively impact people, society, and the planet. Cisco is also using its strength in connecting people and things to the Internet and working to create a robust ecosystem including government and community organizations in India to effect real change in the areas of critical human needs, education, economic empowerment, and environmental sustainability.

 V C Gopalratnam, Trustee, Cisco Foundation & Senior Vice President, IT & CIO – International said, “According to a Cisco research, by 2030 there will more than 500 billion devices connected to the Internet. This will have a profound effect on not just businesses but our everyday lives too. In order to make the most of the plethora of opportunities that lie ahead of us, we will need to harness the power of technology to create an inclusive digital economy. With our philanthropic and CSR efforts, we are committed to positively impact 50 million beneficiaries in India the next seven years. We work with some of the most forward thinking partners, not-for-profit organizations, collaborative governments and scores of passionate employees to really make a different to the world that we inhabit.”

Fostering Entrepreneurship

Cisco is setting up a network of “Cisco thingQbator” IoT makerspaces or innovation labs in five academic institutions in India with the objective of digital skills development and entrepreneurship enablement among student communities. Cisco is collaborating with the NASSCOM Foundation for the implementation of the program. The makerspaces will enable students to get hands on with technology and conceive digital solutions to local problems. The five academic institutions that have been chosen for establishment of ‘thingQbator’ makerspaces are Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, (IIITMK), Kerala, IIT-BHU Varanasi, Amrita University Coimbatore, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women- Delhi and Trident Academy of Technology Bhubaneswar.

Cisco is also supporting N/Core, an incubator for social sector startups, to launch N/Core tech, an exclusive track focused on incubating early-stage nonprofits that leverage digital technology to positively impact society and solve some of India’s most pressing social challenges. N/Core tech will primarily focus on incubating companies that are developing solutions in the areas of critical human needs, education, and economic empowerment. Cisco will support up to 20 organizations during the first year in two cohorts. Each selected startup will receive an innovation grant of INR 10 Lakhs. In addition, the startup will have access to a set of mentors and technology experts from Cisco along with N/Core partners.

Sudha Srinivasan, CEO, N/Core said, “Our aim is to empower a new generation of innovators who are imagining solutions to some of the biggest social challenges. Technology is a powerful means to deliver innovative solutions to age old problems, at scale. The collaboration with Cisco brings in the required support for early stage non-profits in this sector. When innovators apply technology to a higher purpose of improving human lives, and visionary leaders like Cisco step up to support their aspirations, it becomes possible to re-imagine a future of inclusive development, where no Indian is left behind.”

With the help of Cisco’s CSR grant, N/Core will invest in early-stage, tech-led ideas partnering with high-impact social sector startups to create scalable and sustainable solutions. In addition to providing cash grants, Cisco will also support these startups with mentoring, employee volunteering, and capacity building.

Skills Development & Building Workforce Capacity

As part of its efforts to accelerate India’s digital transformation, Cisco is scaling up its Cisco Networking Academy program to create a pool of highly-skilled technology professionals. Through this program schools, colleges, universities and other non-profit educational institutions are provided Cisco-developed curriculum in computer networking, security and IoT that can be integrated with the institution’s own educational offering. Cisco also supports public sector organizations like The Telangana Academy for Skills and Knowledge, and the ICT Academy of Kerala, to provide training on networking and cybersecurity skills aimed at improving employability of engineering graduates in those states. By 2020 Cisco aims to create a pipeline of 250,000 skilled students in India as well as a marketplace for high-value technology-based careers. Already over 155,000 students have successfully picked up essentials skills from over 306 academies across the country.

Talent Outreach Program is a six-month program to provide high school students an early exposure to technical skills to better prepare them as global problem solvers. In its second year, 70 students from 12 schools have been enrolled for this program. The students of this program use technologies like HTML, JavaScript, AngularJS, Bootstrap, PHP, MySQL, Python, IoT (raspberry pi) to create platforms and apps to address real life challenges faced by schools and students. Some of the projects include a school-wide book sharing app through which students can upload books to share, read and learn with other students; and an RFID-based attendance system for class students. The latter solution eliminates the tedious time- consuming task of manually tracking attendance and minimizes risk of error.

G Bhaskar, Director – Corporate Relations, Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge, Govt of Telegana, “Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge (TASK) was established by Government of Telangana to enable a platform between Government, Academia and Industry to enhance employability quotient of students in the state. The state of Telangana has initiated multiple programs to take advantage of the digital disruption that we see all around us. We recognize that skills will be one of the most critical factors that will improve employment opportunities and foster innovation. Through the Cisco Networking Academy, we will enable engineering students in the state to build solutions around networking and cyber security. This will also act as a platform that will contribute to talent enhancement efforts and help meet the growing skill demand in the digital era thereby providing trained students to prospective hiring organizations.”

Cisco also launched the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Internet of Things (IoT) at R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru to give the next generation of students the digital skills and training necessary for jobs in the digital economy. On completion of the course, students and working professionals receive credential certificates jointly given by RVCE and Cisco. In the last one year, 1000 students have benefitted from this CoE.

According to Dr. Cauvery N.K, Professor & HOD, R V College of Engineering, “India is the youngest start-up and developer nation in the world, with 72% of the founders being less than 35 years old and the average developer aged less than 29 years. Hence, their lies an opportunity to make huge gains because of this demographic dividend. Through our collaboration with Cisco on the Centre of Excellence in Internet of Things, we aim to shape the careers of thousands of students through specialized curriculum and quality infrastructure. We are thrilled to work with Cisco to create a pipeline of skilled students in India, enhance employability of fresh graduates and create a marketplace for high value technology based careers.” 

‘Step Up for India – Spoken English Program’ is in its fourth year and has benefitted over 300+ students from three government schools in Bangalore. The program delivers structured spoken English classes to students in grade 4 and 5 studying in government schools where the medium of instruction is the local language. These structured interventions are also executed in the space of STEM learning such as in the case of ‘Project Smiles Through Science’ which endeavors to provide an experiential learning platform for students on the basics of robotics through structured year-long programs leveraging the expertise and mentorship of Cisco volunteers.  120+ students from Parikrma Humanity Foundation benefitted from the program last year.

Critical Human Needs

Cisco is also supporting the Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world’s largest (non-profit) mid-day meal program to help feed children across the country and digitize their kitchens across seven locations in India. While employee giving, volunteering and company matching grants help feed 35,000 children every day, Cisco’s enterprise-grade network and collaboration suite is connecting Akshaya Patra kitchens and their offices to efficiently track their kitchen production, distribution, supply chain and logistics. This digitisation effort is expected to increase Akshaya Patra’s operational efficiency by about five percent which will help them extend the mid-day meal program to over 28,500 students every day and one step closer to their goal of feeding 5 million children by 2020.

Environmental Sustainability

Cisco is also committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting renewable energy. It recently signed two solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) that will collectively deliver 85,000 megawatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity every year to the local electric grid near its Bangalore campus. These agreements will provide nearly 40 percent of the electricity that is needed to power Cisco’s Bangalore campus.

Cisco has also installed one megawatt of solar panels across all of its rooftops at the Bangalore campus. Collectively, these onsite solar installations and two new solar PPAs will reduce Cisco’s Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions at its Bangalore campus by over 70,000 metric tonnes per year, which is equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off roads or planting 1.8 million trees.

 Harish Krishnan, Managing Director, Public Affairs & Strategic Engagements, Cisco India & SAARC said “For India to compete in the global economy, strategic collaboration between businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations is critical. At Cisco, our collaborations and programs are focused on harnessing the power of technology to support and launch a generation of problem solvers who will innovate like technologists, think like entrepreneurs and act as social change agents.”

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