Cisco, SBA Announce Online Learning Program

WASHINGTON (07/19/2000) - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Cisco Systems Inc. on Wednesday announced an online training partnership to help small businesses incorporate the Internet into their day-to-day business operations.

SBA and Cisco are offering six online courses free of charge covering the basics of using the Internet, doing business via the Internet, marketing on the Web and building an integrated business and technology plan, SBA and Cisco officials said at a news conference.

"The Cisco-SBA training partnership will help thousands of small businesses to be Internet savvy, understand the digital economy and, most importantly, take advantage of growing e-commerce opportunities," said Darryl Dennis, associate deputy administrator for entrepreneurial development at SBA.

Dennis said an estimated 1 million small businesses tapped into existing SBA online training programs last year, and the number grows every year.

Cisco officials, including John Chambers, president and chief executive officer, said the company is sponsoring the program because it shares the government's goals of strengthening the economy, making businesses competitive regardless of size and creating and preserving jobs through the promotion of small businesses.

"It is only appropriate that business and government work together to say how do we position our small companies to compete much more effectively than their counterparts on a global basis," said Chambers, who participated in the briefing via a video link.

Many small businesses have shied away from the Internet because they think it's too expensive or too complicated to use, said Charlie Giancarlo, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's small and medium business group. The program is aimed at helping companies with limited budgets, time and personnel learn how to participate fully in the Internet economy, he said.

In addition to course material, users of the online training program will see links to Cisco business Web sites, but the courses are more about doing business in the Internet economy than they are about Cisco products, Giancarlo said.

"Our products are not really in those courses at all," Giancarlo said. "The links occur at various places throughout the curriculum when a customer wants to branch out to a place where they can actually learn about products or to do commerce with a vendor. Generally (they are) directed to a reseller."

Cisco's expenditure on the SBA program is at least US$1 million, Giancarlo said, but he added that the amount is diffcult to estimate because the program is part of Cisco's overall Web presence.

Small businesses can access the courses at http://classroom.sba.gov or at http://www.ciscowebseminars.com/sba. A dialup connection of 28.8K bits per second is sufficient to take the courses.

Cisco Systems Inc., in San Jose, California, is at +1-408-526-4000, or at http://www.cisco.com/.

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