Ryan Gersava,founder of Virtualahan had a goal in mind since he started working as a medical technician in a hospital. It was nothing else, but to provide access to job opportunities for Filipinos, especially to those people who are marginalized due to their medical condition, disability or former lifestyle, for example, drug addicts. Virtualahan, the social enterprise, was an answer to it.
Virtualahan is a combination of the word “virtual” and “eskwelehan” a Filipino term for “school.” It is run by an amazing team: Rose Villamor, Josh Gersava, Jay Mar Albor, Emanross Vasquez, Michael Alinsonorin and Ryan Gersava. It also created the Virtualahan Student Association which functions as a support network and volunteer arm of the social enterprise.
By taking advantage of the power of the internet and the growing outsourcing industry in Philippines,Virtualahan enables people to work online as home-based professionals through skills training and employment support. It is specially designed to help people who are looking for jobs online due to certain conditions including single parents and unemployed youth. They undergo a one-month capacity building to provide virtual assistant services to different nonprofits, social enterprises and NGO’s across the globe.
Talking in detail about the venture, Ryan says, “We maximize employment opportunities by enabling people to work online as virtual assistants through skills training while integrating values formation and personal development. We also provide employment support through our virtual internship program that leads to direct hiring or job matching from different online jobs platforms. In the process, we are building a community for people to be vulnerable without judgment, organize meet-ups and create campaigns to educate the public and raise awareness about certain topics related to their condition or disabilities to fight discrimination.”
While working in the hospital as a medical technician, Ryan had the first-hand experience to people who lost their chance for employment after testing positive to certain tests in the laboratory examination.
“I questioned myself, as a medical technologist, ‘What more can I do about this?’ People have less access to job opportunities because of their health condition and disabilities. These people have difficulties in getting a regular job even if they have the skills and education. For example, there are 12,000 Filipinos who got rejected from jobs annually because they tested positive for Hepatitis B Virus. Hepatitis B patients are but a segment of the many who suffer from employment or workplace discrimination. Persons with disabilities, people living with HIV and AIDS, people with the congenital and autoimmune disease and among others are not just battling for their lives but enduring the inequality of the society on daily basis.” Ryan explains.
He adds, “I always wanted to help people. My childhood dream is to become a physician so that I can help as many people.” After university, Ryan started the journey towards his goal in life. He stumbled into Watson Institute Philippines, an incubator for leaders, innovators, and social entrepreneurs. He was awarded a full scholarship and his entrepreneurial journey began. He became a fellow at The DO School in Berlin and the Active Citizens Program of the British Council.
“We all want to make a difference but only those who actually do something about it creates real impact and real impact only happens when your desire to do good is greater than your desired to be recognized for doing so.” concludes Ryan Gersava.