In underserved or isolated communities, Internet connectivity can open doors to better healthcare, education, jobs, social services, and economic opportunities.
Yet more than 2 billion people in the developing world lack access to technologies that could improve their quality of life.
Many development programs try to address this issue. But they are not always designed to address the specific needs of the community or to be sustainable after the initial investment period.
As a result, many citizens are missing out on the opportunity to fully participate in the 21st-century economy.
In 2007, Cisco made a US$10 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to better enable sub-Saharan African communities to participate in the global economy through information and communications technology (ICT).
Cisco partnered with international and local organizations to develop Community Knowledge Centers (CKCs) that would suit a community’s unique needs and be sustainable without long-term funding.
CKCs are owned and operated by local organizations such as schools, health clinics, and community centers. Revenues generated from services such as technology support, Internet access, and training are used to cover ongoing operations and maintenance costs.
Cisco’s partners in developing the CKC model were:
Inveneo: Created the CKC hardware and software infrastructure and cultivated local businesses to provide ongoing support.
One Global Economy: Developed locally relevant online content on topics like employment, health, business, education, culture, and citizenship.
Appleseeds Academy: Developed a CKC manager training and support program.
In many CKCs, Cisco provided the networking infrastructure that became a foundation for other basic but powerful technology tools – computers, Internet access, video cameras, information and collaboration portals, and technology training.
CKC users in developing countries who once had little to no connection to the world outside their villages now use these tools for a variety of activities, including to:
To date, 107 Community Knowledge Centers have served approximately 190,000 people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa.
According to a September 2012 report by Mission Measurement, CKC users are more than twice as likely than non-users to seek opportunities for economic advancement.
Of the CKC users surveyed in Kenya and South Africa who sought employment opportunities, 20 percent were successful in finding a job compared to only 12 percent of the non-users.
Of the 44 users in Kenya who reported earning more income, 36 percent said the CKC helped them learn something that contributed to their higher income.
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