|Since children have limited access to food, many of them take to the streets to beg / Photo Credit: JLwarehouse (via Shutterstock)|
Zeus Kerravala of eWeek, a news platform for IT professionals, reports that most corporations have corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, but few have taken their initiatives as seriously as Cisco Systems. One of its initiatives is to help others make the world a better place, enabling the Cisco’s CSR investments to go further, thereby creating a multiplicative effect over what it could do on its own. One example is Kenyan firm Food4Education.
Last year, Cisco joined forces with international advocacy group Global Citizen organization as its global technology power. Cisco sponsors the annual $250,000 Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award to honor anyone who is taking significant steps in combatting poverty. The individual must be between the ages of 18 and 30, with Food4Education founder Wawira Nijiru was the first winner of this award in 2018. In New York, Nijru and Cisco’s Chief People Officer and Executive VP Francine Katsoudas discussed the impact Food4Education is having with regard to curbing poverty.
Nijiru saw how limited access to food causes problems in health and education. Many children stopped going to school to beg for food. Alarmingly, malnutrition causes students to do poorly in schools, limiting the opportunities they will have in the future. Food4Education’s mission is to feed school-age kids with nutritious meals, allowing them to excel in school and unlock their potential.
To achieve that goal, Nijiru leveraged mobile technology and IoT. Her company is currently using an NFC payment system to log payments from purchased meals. Children are given a wearable, enabling them to buy subsidized, healthy meals without having to bring cash. In fact, using the wearable’s digital wallet to pay for meals takes less than five seconds to complete.
At first, she was rejected multiple times because it was nothing but a passion project. Despite that, Nijiru endeavored, serving more than 250,000 meals in 2018 and slated to serve over 500,000 meals in 2019. Nijiru’s success shows that all IT and corporate leaders should think and take their CSR initiatives seriously. In fact, they should find a way to support individuals who are driven to make a difference in the world.