Founder Spotlight: Ryan Gersava of Virtualahan
Young Filipino Entrepreneur helping achieve the SDG through Technology
By Bea Perdigon
Ryan Gersava Founds Virtualahan, a social enterprise that maximizes employment opportunities for Filipinos through online jobs while helping NGOs save on cost.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number eight aims to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. An aspiring social entrepreneur from the Philippines is making small but concrete efforts to help in fulfilling this goal.
Ryan Gersava, founder of the social enterprise Virtualahan has one goal in mind, to provide access to job opportunities for Filipinos especially those who are marginalized by their health condition, disability or former life (drug addicts).
What is Virtualahan?
Virtualahan,a social enterprise that enables people to work online as home-based professionals through skills training and employment support. It is taking advantage of the power of the internet and the growing outsourcing industry in the country to maximize employment opportunities for Filipinos
Virtualahan is designed to help full-time parents, unemployed youth, and people who have less access to jobs because of their medical condition, disabilities or former life. They undergo a one month capacity building to provide virtual assistant services to different nonprofits, social enterprises and NGOS across the globe.
In the process, Virtualahan is building a support group to provide a safe space for people to be vulnerable and build each other up. It also activates them to be involved in educating the public about their condition or disability through campaign and events.
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.
The Founder’s Story
Ryan is a medical technician by training and working in the hospital he saw first-hand how people lost their chance for employment after testing positive to certain tests in their 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 to 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 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 said.
He continued, “I always wanted to help people. My childhood dream is to become a doctor so that I can help as many people as possible.” After university, Ryan is unwilling to spend more time in the laboratory or spend years in a medical school after figuring out his life’s purpose, Ryan had to rethink his goal in life.
While on a crossroad, 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 then joined competitions like the Bank of the Philippine Islands Foundation: SINAG Business Challenge, become part of the prestigious fellowship at The DO School in Berlin and the Active Citizens Program of the British Council. This September, he will be representing the Philippines as a speaker in the Social Entrepreneurship World Forum in Hong Kong.
Virtualahan at 2030
Virtualahan’s vision is strongly aligned to one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations. In less than eight months, the social enterprise has provided training to over 75 individuals and has helped over 50 of them have access to online job opportunities.
Ryan and his team is very passionate about this venture! “In five years, we plan to expand Virtualahan to other developing countries in Southeast Asia or Africa,” Ryan shared.
Creating social awareness through empowering people with disabilities is an inspiring cause that would certainly be met with success. Driven with a purpose to provide a solution to the pressing problem of the Philippines, Virtualahan is surely destined for rapid growth.