SOURCE: Cisco Systems

December 03, 2006 16:42 ET

Cisco Pledges $1 Million Investment for ICT Related Micro-Credit Financing in Developing Countries

Cisco Supports the "ICT Empowerment Network" With Grameen Bank and International Telecommunication Union

HONG KONG -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 3, 2006 -- ITU TELECOM WORLD 06 -- Cisco® (NASDAQ: CSCO) today announced that it will pledge one million dollars to support ICT related micro-financing initiatives within the global ICT Empowerment Network, a new collaborative micro-credit financing program launched today by Professor Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Prize Laureate and managing director of Grameen Bank, in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ICT Empowerment Network is a virtual network of organizations working together to help the underprivileged earn sustainable incomes.

Through its network of ITU-Cisco supported Internet Training Centres, Cisco will work with the ITU and Grameen Bank to provide eligible students micro-credit loans to undertake their information and communications technology (ICT) education. In addition, Cisco will work with ITU and Grameen Bank to help eligible graduates of ITU Internet Training Centres receive entrepreneurial business training and/or mentoring as well as micro-credit start up capital to launch their own ICT related businesses.

"I am very excited at the level of commitment and support from ITU Connect the World partners, like Cisco, who can translate creative ideas into action to make a difference in the developing world," Yunus said. "The ongoing success of the ITU-Cisco Internet Training Initiative worldwide demonstrates what can be accomplished through effective public and private sector collaboration for sustainable development."

In 2002, Cisco and the ITU launched the Internet Training Center Initiative for Developing Countries with the goal of setting up 50 centres around the world by 2003. The effort has led today to the establishment of 66 such ITU-sponsored centres in 56 countries, including 20 least-developed countries. ITU-Cisco Internet Training Centers leverage the comprehensive curriculum created by the Cisco Networking Academy Program, which will celebrate 10 years of ICT education in 2007. There are Cisco Networking Academies in roughly 165 countries worldwide serving half a million students annually.

"Education and enhanced ICT skills have proven to expand communities, so increasing access to ICT education in the developing world through micro-credit financing is a great idea," said Mr. Yoshio Utsumi, secretary-general of the ITU. "The continued growth of Internet Protocol networking in the developing countries, especially through active support from government and private sector leaders, will yield tangible benefits for the global economy as a whole."

"The ITU continues to be a leader in ICT development programs and partnerships worldwide that help narrow the digital divide," said Tae Yoo, Cisco vice president of corporate affairs and executive lead for corporate social responsibility. "This opportunity for Cisco to provide a replicable and sustainable platform for people to enter the ICT world through education and entrepreneurial pursuits is a great example of the impact that effective public and private partnerships can have in the developing world."

The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, can be viewed live at www.nobelprize.org on Sunday, December 10, 1 pm Oslo time (in US 7 am EST, 6 am CST, 5 am MST, 4 am Pacific Standard Time).

About Grameen Bank

Grameen Bank Project was born in the village of Jobra, Bangladesh, in 1976. In 1983 it was transformed into a formal bank. Borrowers of Grameen Bank at present own 94 percent of the total equity of the bank. Remaining 6 percent is owned by the government. It has 6.6 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women. It works exclusively for them. Grameen Bank does not require any collateral against its micro-loans. Although each borrower must belong to a five-member group, the group is not required to give any guarantee for a loan to its member. Repayment responsibility solely rests on the individual borrower. Grameen Bank has 2,226 branches and it works in 71,371 villages, with a staff of 18,795. http://www.grameen-info.org/

About Connect the World

Launched within the context of the World Summit on the Information Society in June 2005, Connect the World is a multistakeholder initiative that aims to help expand access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the estimated 800,000 villages and one billion people worldwide for whom making a simple telephone call remains out of reach. By showcasing current development efforts, tracking progress and identifying both pressing needs as well as opportunities for collaboration, Connect the World will help generate the momentum required to "connect the unconnected by 2015." For more information, visit: www.itu.int/partners.

About the ITU

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, and the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services. For more than 140 years, ITU has coordinated shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that assure seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems.

From broadband Internet to latest-generation wireless technologies, from aeronautical and maritime navigation to radio astronomy and satellite-based meteorology, from phone and fax services to TV broadcasting and next-generation networks, ITU continues to play a central role in helping the world communicate.

About Cisco Systems

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. As part of its commitment to corporate social responsibility, Cisco has taken leadership in several innovative programs focused on education and leveraging the internet and communications technology to bridge the digital divide worldwide. Information about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com.

Cisco, Cisco Systems, and the Cisco Systems logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and certain other countries. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company. This document is Cisco Public Information.

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