A powerful shift in the business strategy of hi-tech giants coalesced at this week's Cisco Live EU expo and conference in Barcelona. The record 17,000 delegates to the annual event were as likely to hear exhortations to make a positive impact on the world as they were to be bombarded with messages on how to contribute to their businesses' bottom lines.

Cisco Systems, the world leader in networking equipment that links up the pipes and parts of the internet, is staking a reputation that has built it into a $200bn (about R3-trillion) company on its ability to improve the lives of a billion marginalised people by 2025.

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