Cisco Systems, Inc., a computer networking firm with over 70,000 employees worldwide, is committed to not only selling its products to Latin American and Caribbean countries but also encouraging community development and promoting social inclusion within those markets. Accordingly, Cisco has partnered with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and public-sector institutions to maximize the impact of its technological expertise on local populations—which is a model that other corporations should consider.
Cisco's flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) tool is its Cisco Networking Academy (CNA) initiative. Started in 1997, CNA delivers practical, hands-on training in information and communications technology (ICT) in the areas of designing, building, troubleshooting, and securing computer networks. The goal of CNA is for students to further their education, prepare for careers in ICT or even start their own businesses.
CNA is a public-private partnership; Cisco teams up with universities, NGOs and government agencies to develop the ICT courses and—leveraging those partnerships—maximize access for those in the lowest socioeconomic percentiles. There are over 10,000 CNAs across 165 countries; in Latin America its reach spans 22 countries via 1,200 partner organizations since the program's inception. 600,000 citizens of Latin America—including 174,000 this year alone—have enrolled in CNA courses . Worldwide, Cisco has trained 3.75 million people to date, 900,000 of them just in 2011, with women comprising nearly one-fourth of trainees.