Sunday, December 11, 2005

How 35-40% growth can save the world

The issue of the Middle East is one which I would like to come back to now and again. As mentions, Israel is a strong IT market but some may feel like that is not the case for some of its neighbors as well.

The Cisco Networking Academy is helping to address some of that lack of IT infrastructure, and that is important work not just for the local economies, but for overall stability in the region as well. What I like most about this is that it is good business, and not all warm-and-fuzzies.

I’m glad Cisco considers itself s good corporate citizen and as an employee, that makes me feel better about my company. But to be honest, I’m a little skeptical of CSR as a whole. If a company wants to do good, fine, but as a society we shouldn’t have to rely on the whims of a corporation to ensure that basic societal needs are met. Also, as a shareholder, I want the company in which I invest to make money; I pay taxes so I can have schools and shelters and so on. Also, if a nice-guy initiative doesn’t make money, it is vulnerable. So a CSR-conscious company may fund a good project one year, but if times get tough, that project will be axed to the detriment of those who rely on that project.

That is why I’m particularly interested in what Cisco is doing in the Middle East. Cisco does a lot of great socially-responsible stuff in the region and it is paying off, our business is growing by 35%-40% in there. JEI and other initiatives isn’t your typical CSR fluff. I’d call this more market development than CSR AND with the extra double added bonus of doing something to bring stability to a troubled part of the world.

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