I came across a company called Virtualahan—a pioneer virtual school for disadvantaged people in the Philippines. Virtualahan aims to reach underprivileged people, equip them with digital skills and be online professionals. Virtualahan aims to address five Sustainable Development Goals for the students that enroll in their institution. These SDGs are No Poverty, Good Health & Wellbeing, Quality Education, Decent Work & Economic Growth and Reduced Inequalities.
I had the privilege to interview one of the staff in Virtualahan. During the interview, I realized how rampant discrimination is in the country. And personally, my interaction with Virtualahan brought about a different perspective on how I perceive discrimination. I believe that discrimination only happens because of gender, age, race, sex and religion. After the interview, I realized that other communities are affected by discrimination – people with genetic/chronic diseases, people with disabilities and socially excluded communities (former sex workers, former prisoners, former addicts and more).
My awareness of the situation grew, and I find the thought that disadvantaged people are not charity cases enlightening. I understand that charity helps, but in many cases, these people are able and capable of doing good beyond their disability – all they need is opportunity. What struck me also is the realization that most disadvantaged people are in poverty because they have limited options for employment. The founder and president of Virtualahan experienced discrimination first-hand when an employer found out about his health condition – this caused him not to get the position. On the other hand, I learned about how Virtualahan has changed many students’ lives.
Virtualahan has an impact formula, and they are targeting 100 organizations with each to produce 100 graduates. Virtualahan is reaching out to both the public and private sectors to partner with them to employ graduates of their institution. What can we do to help? As a future leader, I will be conscious of the employment process, ensuring that discrimination is not present in the process. Virtualahan gives me hope that disadvantaged people can turn their lives around. And replicated in other institutions would contribute a lot to steps in nation-building.
Virtualahan’s story is also published on Aim2Flourish’s website. Aim2Flourish is a program for business students to experience “Do Good, Do Well” leadership through publishing innovation stories from first-hand conversations with business leaders.
You can check out the full Aim2Flourish story through this link: https://aim2flourish.com/innovations/sparking-hope-2
Editor’s note: Sara’s story is one of the 2022 Flourish Prize Finalists. The 17 Flourish Prizes are given annually, recognizing businesses’ role in achieving the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The 17 Honorees are chosen from stories of positive business innovation published on AIM2Flourish.com during the preceding calendar year – stories discovered and published by students worldwide.
The author is a recent MBA graduate from the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, DLSU. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.