We equip Persons with Disability with mindset and digital skills to become competitive employees and entrepreneurs through virtual learning

Photo of Ryan Gersava
0 1

Written by


  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Ryan D. Gersava

Initiative's representative date of birth

March 27, 1993

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Choose not to respond

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Philippines

Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

Facebook: LinkedIn: Instagram and Twitter- @virtualahan

When was your organisation founded?

October 2015

Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce
  • Creating digital tools

Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $100k - $250k

Organisation Type

  • Hybrid

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

I dreamt to become a medical doctor to get my family out of poverty. I am the youngest of 10 & neither of my parents finished high school. So I worked hard as a scholar & finished school with flying colors. I was offered three jobs as a medical technician but got rejected from all of them because I have an incurable disease. I went into a dream shift & that's when I learned about social entrepreneurship. My lived experience helped me understand the root causes of the problem & I was able to listen to stories with similar realities. I formed a team & after two months of ideation, we launched Virtualahan. Three months after we started Virtualahan, we won first place out of 21 contestants from 15 different countries. I said my biggest Aha!

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

According to the ILO, People with Disabilities (PWDs) make up an estimated one billion (15% GP). About 80% are of working age. The right of people with disabilities to decent work, however, is frequently denied. They experience higher rates of unemployment & economic inactivity & are at greater risk of insufficient social protection that is key to reducing extreme poverty. They are already left behind, but even more, as automation will take over.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Virtualahan ensures that the most excluded populations of society are given equal opportunities for high-level work in the new digital economy using an impact formula that integrates well-being sessions and community-building with digital job skills training. Specifically: 1. Ten-weeks of digital skills training in skills like automation, communication, data processing, digital arts, critical thinking, and digital marketing. The curriculum is co-developed with Accenture and delivered through our virtual classroom; 2. They are then exposed to a two-week apprenticeship & three-weeks of dedicated job coaching where they are mentored by industry experts with the opportunity to be hired by them. 3. They also receive an additional two months of employment support or one year of business mentorship for entrepreneurship track. 4. We also provide leadership training & change-making experience. We give them the opportunity to represent us in events & speaking engagement. Our alumni also join our masterclass for advanced skills to help increase their income or start a venture. 4. We also work with our employment partners to augment their process, culture, & infrastructure.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Imagine a person with autism, blind, deaf, and quadriplegic inside a traditional classroom? It's impossible for them to learn at the same time. Now put technology in between through virtual learning then captions for the deaf, image descriptions for the blind, simple clickable buttons for people with autism, and no writing needed for a quadriplegic. That's what we built. A fully accessible classroom for people regardless of their disability to learn together while building a supportive community that empowers them to shine. We also educate their employers so that they don't get overwhelmed & can truly benefit from the talents of Persons with Disability without compromising business outcomes. Story-

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

1. We are using a life-long learning approach through independent learning & live coaching using our virtual classroom. They just don't learn essential & practical skills but also the techniques on how can they adapt to fast-changing development in the job market. 2. Our holistic approach integrates life-coaching to our curriculum with a strong focus on emotional intelligence, growth mindset, adaptability, and relationship building. These improve their learning outcome & increase long-term engagement within our community. 3. We also have masterclasses & peer-learning for them to continuously upgrade their skills & discover other potentials they have. 4. Our model allows our graduates to work on high paying digital jobs from the comfort of their home. This removes barriers like the need for a personal assistant, transportation, & reasonable accommodation request from employers.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

We equip our scholars with practical skills in data processing & analytics, digital arts & design, and digital marketing as well as essential skills in emotional intelligence, critical thinking, mindfulness, communication, and leadership. We measure our progress in three different areas: a. Before the training- based on skills assessment & exam scores b. While on training- daily feedback system between our scholars and coaches, our analytics from our platform, retention, & completion rate c. After the training- employment rate, increase in income, ability to pay it forward

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Virtualahan also uses a similar approach to Samasource in Kenya & Harambee in South Africa by using technology as an equalizer to serve marginalized communities. What makes Virtualahan different is our holistic approach in our execution with a strong focus on personal well-being & active citizenship that transforms our community members into community leaders thus creating a ripple effect & sustainable impact. We are also a virtual company with the majority of our training done 100% online serving communities that are the furthest in the marginalization spectrum.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Our Achievements 400+graduates 98% completion rate 78% employment rate 42% increase in income 60+ provinces nationwide 18 major award received 50+ Million Reach Our alumni rated their confidence level to have increased by 78%, and their overall quality of life has increased by 47% after joining our community. There is also an increase in their participation in decision making in the family and a strong sense of belonging to the community. 99% of our alumni claimed that Virtualahan made a positive contribution to their lives. Our impact is also backed by a paper from the University of Manchester. It’s been showcased in various international conferences and has been widely published. Follow this link: Read an impact story from one of our graduates here-

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Our current model: 1. 65% of our revenue comes from our training fee. Our scholars don't pay anything upfront with a condition that they pay off their scholarship loan within ten months of getting a job using our pay it forward model. Our scholarship sponsors initially pay the amount, and then we keep the funds rolling making their dollars having infinite value. 2. 35% comes from our outsourcing services. We provide a wide selection of virtual assistant services to impact-driven organizations all over the world. We are now testing our E-learning subscription model and also developing a tech platform for effective job matching. We are also launching our HR Solutions to help companies become more diverse & inclusive in the workplace

10. Team

Our team has 30+ combined experience in training & coaching, 25+ years in outsourcing, 20+ in community building, & 18+ business & entrepreneurship. We have five people in our leadership taking care of training & employment, legal & finance, HR & Community, Technology, & Fundraising & strategy. We have 7 business leaders in our informal advisory board from across industries. We have 18 full-time employees, 12 contractors, & 6 consultants including our in-house psychologist & job coaches.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability (including: physical, intellectual, and/or mental disabilities)
  • Religion
  • Socioeconomic class

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

Having the lived experience helped us expand our work from working with only Persons with Disabilities to now using the same impact formula to serve solo parents, Youth NEET, recovering drug addicts, Persons Deprived of Liberty/inmates, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and indigenous people. Although we came from very diverse backgrounds, we share the common struggle of being denied jobs because of our circumstances.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

11. Bring it to life: Please walk us through a concrete example of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address

One Impact Story that we have is Charina, who lost her ability to hear at the age of 9 during a meningitis epidemic in Davao City. She graduated from our digital skills training in 2017 & became one of our top scholars. Before that, her only livelihood is cleaning other people’s houses & washing dishes in restaurants. We then employ her to work for our German client as a Social Media Manager where she just didn't earn but also being mentored by seasoned entrepreneurs & executives. Now Charina is earning 5x compared & became the breadwinner for her family. She's also saving for the future of her newborn daughter. To her words, “Virtualahan enabled me to grow my skills & provided me with meaningful employment. I also found a supportive community that is helping me to empower other deaf girls to achieve their dreams.” For more impact stories-

12. Skills Matching: HSBC Employees will have the opportunity to offer skilled-volunteering. If matched, which of the following skills would you be most interested in receiving?

  • Accounting & Finance
  • Planning & Strategy
  • Monitoring Impact
  • Project Management
  • Program Design
  • Research
  • Legal Services
  • HR Management
  • Board Development
  • Staff Development
  • Marketing Strategy, Design
  • Brand Development
  • Multimedia
  • IT Infrastructure/CRM
  • Web/Mobile Development

13. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

Funding Breakdown:

earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.)-70%

foundation or NGO grants-15%

grants or contracts- 5%

individual donations or gifts- 5%

other- 5%

14. Financial Sustainability – please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project over the next 12 months.

1. Detailed Financial Plan with Operating Budget and 5-year financial projection: 2. Where do you plan on getting your sources of funding? - We plan to grow our revenue from our training by 10X this year. We are also growing our outsourcing platform to 5-10X. We are now developing an E-learning platform which we hope will bring in 20-40% additional revenue. 3. What is the breakdown between your funding for operations versus programs?- 30% General and Administrative expenses, 70% for Programs. 4. If you are creating a product, what are your pricing model & revenue projection?- We are currently raising funding for the improvement of our E-learning platform. It will be on subscription & pay per course. We pivoted because of the impact of COVID-19 to our customers & we have not come up with new projections yet

15. Growth Strategy: What are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

1. We aim to train 3,000+ by 2025, total net earnings of P98M in the next seven years. We do this by expanding our community members to former drug dependents/sex workers/incarcerated, solo parents, indigenous people, & out of school youth.

2. Improving our E-learning platform for other orgs to distribute their content.

3. Improving our model to remove language & cultural barriers to scale the program internationally via social franchising to at least 10 countries in 10 years.

4. We are also doing the groundwork in institutionalizing our program in different local governments in the country.

16. Activating changemakers: How are you giving people the power to control their own destiny and support other people to become changemakers in their communities?

1. We have integrated life-coaching in our curriculum that focuses on empathy, pay it forward mentality, restoring human dignity. We also discuss system change so they truly embody our mission.

2. Many of our graduates are leaders of associations that helped us bring our solution to their communities. Our program inside a city jail was led by our graduate who is formerly incarcerated.

3. We also provide leadership workshops & send some of them to change-making events & represent us in several speaking engagements.

4. 90% of our staff are our graduates including 1 in our leadership team.

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

  • Global Champion & Young Innovator at World Summit Awards
  •  Inspired Leadership Award given to our founder
  • Google Business Group Stories Award
  •  Best NGO-Business Partnership
  • Best Social Enterprise at The Final Pitch
  •  Mindanao Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Outstanding Technology Visionary Award by Lenovo
  • Asia Pacific Future Maker
  • Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations of the Philippines

18. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project

1. Our partners &collaborators are our biggest critics that give us honest feedback on how can we become more effective with our programs.

2. We are collaborating with other organizations by introducing our impact formula so they can tailor it to the needs of their community members & we can also learn how to best serve them.

3. Partners increase our resources, network, & impact.

4. They are also our support group in times of crisis, burnout, & success.

Finally - Your Selfie Elevator Pitch: Share a 1-minute video that shares a quick summary of the problem you would like to solve, how you’ve chosen to solve it, and the impact you hope to see.

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation:

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 100%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 66.7%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 33.3%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

6. FEEDBACK: Highlights

IMPACT POTENTIAL: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) – and you have a concrete plan for future impact. You have specific tools for measuring impact. - 100%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful solutions - 33.3%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work operationally and financially in the present and future; your plan is specific and you value sustainability. - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You have a good plan on how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

Other option - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: Areas for Improvement

IMPACT POTENTIAL: make sure to provide specific instances of your social impact (or how you plan to measure impact) – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, the main activities/products, and provide evidence of (or plan for) impact evaluation - 0%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: make sure to describe how your solution is unique and innovative – it is helpful to include the research you have done on past solutions and how your solution is different from (and/or builds upon) these. - 100%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: make sure you describe your plan for how to empower others to become changemakers through your programming, service, or product - 0%

WRITING STYLE. Try to be concise, descriptive, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 100%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 100%

Other option - 0%

Attachments (1)

Virtualahan_Pitch Deck.pdf

Virtualahan's Pitch Deck to give you a better understanding of the work that we do.


Join the conversation: