Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR Program: Community Knowledge Centers

A model for community development and individual empowerment

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Overcoming poverty starts with the basics: education, opportunity, and connections to the global economy. Yet, more than 2 billion people live in remote communities or isolated neighborhoods without access to phones, computers, or the Internet—the tools of the global economy. Community Knowledge Centers (CKCs) connect the unconnected.

What: Connected communities

In 2007, Cisco made a 5-year, US$10 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to support information and communications technology (ICT) development in five countries—Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and Uganda. The Cisco CKC program developed and tested a model for locally owned, sustainable ICT centers that truly serve community needs and improve quality of life. 

  • 88% of CKC users say CKCs benefit the entire community, even those who do not use it.
  • 38% of users of the Ratanda CKC in South Africa report success finding a job.
  • 60% drop in HIV-related deaths where the local CKC focused on healthcare and medicine.
  • 20% increase in the number of women in Nyangwete, Kenya, receiving a secondary education.
  • 17% reduction in sick days among users of the Addis Ababa CKC in Ethiopia.

How: A cookbook for local success

The Cisco CKC program pairs access to ICT with training to develop local leadership and capacity to sustain the CKC. Cisco directly sponsored 18 CKCs and the creation of the CKC “Cookbook,” a how-to guide for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and communities to develop their own CKCs.

  • CKCs provide Internet and computer access with skilled staff to help visitors.
  • Courses in ICT, entrepreneurship, and language skills develop local workforce readiness.
  • Each CKC is locally owned and operated by respected community members.
  • Small fees for business services and training generate revenue to sustain the CKC.
  • A network of CKC operators share best practices to increase use and outreach.
  • A localized web portal directs visitors to locally relevant services in their language.

Impact multiplied

Through social entrepreneurs, government agencies and NGOs, the CKC model has spread to more than 107 sites, serving more than 190,000 people. CKCs help increase economic opportunity, improve job prospects, and alleviate poverty as they become hubs of economic development and social gathering places.

  • Unemployed workers develop in-demand skills and find new opportunities in South Africa.
  • Farmers expand markets and increase income by 34 million Kenyan shillings in Kenya.
  • Cisco and partner One Global Economy bring successful CKC model to a mountaintop in Mexico
Community Knowledge Centers Connect Rural Communities Watch Program Video >