Project Starfish – Bridging Hope and Values through Businesses

For most of us, to be on an ideal career path may only take a few years of astute experiences and perseverance. With the right degree or certificate, talent and knowledge it’s no doubt that anyone can climb up their desired career ladder. However that’s not the case for those who were born with physical challenges, where living itself is a constant struggle.

But disability should not be a reason why people should stop chasing their dream of having a promising career and live a good life. With this, Project STARFISH and Supahands are taking charge to ensure that the disabled receive the same fair opportunity in building their professional career.

Creating Jobs for the Disabled Globally

Established under the MIT Startup Exchange 3 years ago, Project STARFISH is now operating transnationally in at least 7 different countries across different continents. With a vision echoes, “employment opportunity is a human right”, the organization has created jobs for hundreds of disabled working professionals globally and continues to assist others to be well informed with the ever-changing technology development and industry knowledge and preparing them for the challenging job market. The initiative focuses on providing solutions to not only problem like social stigma on disabled working professionals but also on other prominent matters like the lack of contemporary business skills, insufficient working experience and most importantly, no professional network.

Subhashish Acharya, the Founder of Project STARFISH also stresses that success is determined by “attitude” thus Project STARFISH prioritizes on hiring people who have the right attitude before candidates undergo a professional training that industry requires while given a hands-on experience by working on projects with small businesses in order to gain a basic understanding and experience in business.


Arm in Arm to Create Equal Job Opportunities for the Disabled

It is undeniably true that being a professional with a disability is a tough row to hoe. Our SupaAgent, Agent Aleena asserts that years of experience and a Degree don’t assure job security and unfortunately, most offices don’t provide assistive technology for visually impaired working professionals like her but she’s grateful that the SupaAgent program granted her a rewarding part time job opportunities plus the perks of remote working and secure ‘Hands’ payment system. Being the Country Lead for Project STARFISH Malaysia, Aleena has proven that her disability never weighs her down as she has managed an array of big international projects for companies like Zonopact Inc, Holisol Logistic and just to name a few.

Project STARFISH and Supahands are working arm in arm in advocating the cause for a better and fairer opportunities for disability employment, by opening more career platforms for the disabled and OKU Jobs (Orang Kurang Upaya) not only in APAC but throughout the globe. Read more about the initiative in the interview done with Project STARFISH founder Subhashish Acharya and our SupaAgent, Siti Nur Aleena Che Ramli.



Project STARFISH Alumni who have proven that disability is not a barrier to success.

An Interview with the Project STARFISH Founder

Supahands (S.H) : “What are the vision, mission and objectives behind the establishment of Project Starfish?”

Subhashish Acharya (S.A) : “Look around and you will see millions and millions of people who have talent, ability and just waiting for a chance to prove themselves. Several year’s back, I went to a job fair for the blind. About 150 people, all blind, smartly dressed were eager to get a job interview. Sadly, despite the fact there were 30 employers there, none of them actually got a job. We spoke to all the professionals who were visually impaired and realised that perception problems (which does exist with people with disabilities ) alone is not the problem of unemployment. There were 3 other problems. Professionals lacked contemporary business skills, did not have relevant work experience and did not have business/ professional connections. In todays ever changing industry, skill obsolescence is rampant. Take for example – 15 years back we had Motorola handsets, today they are replaced by smartphones. Facebook is the biggest marketing platform, yet it produces no content of it’s own, Uber operates the biggest fleet of car’s, yet owns none, AirB’nB has the highest number of rooms, yet owns no rooms. Something very interesting is going on. Unemployment is everywhere. Yes everywhere. It is not just people with disabilities, but youth, students, veterans, women etc – it is everywhere.


The world has a lot of talent. There are millions of people with so much of ability, yet few have opportunities.


S.A: “Project Starfish a Startup company, part of MIT Startup Exchange was developed based on the mission to solve the unemployment challenges for groups that unfortunately have very low access to opportunities, despite the fact they are talented. After 3 years of operation, Project Starfish has created jobs for hundreds of professionals working with nearly hundred contemporary companies at Harvard Innovation Lab, Makerspaces, Cloud companies, supply chain knowledge companies etc. We have achieved this by creating an Internship/ Workforce development model that transforms ambitious talented professionals to learn knowledge based new skills, augment contemporary work experience and grow a professional network resulting in employment. The whole platform now works as a career launcher or career re-launcher, which is live, virtual , global and based on experiential learning.”


Workforce Development

Project STARFISH Global Workforce Development Model


S.A : “There is really no springboard, career re-launcher and a “second chance” organization in the whole world where anyone, anywhere, anytime can get back their lives by creating opportunities for themselves. Our vision is to be the worlds biggest Internship/workforce development program that results in equal learning and equal opportunity, despite race, religion, color, social or economic status, gender, disability etc.”


We believe “Employment Opportunity” is a human right. Social problems can be solved by creating business value in a modern world. We will forever be a social impact business, however we have to create business value to solve the social problems.


For details here is a 4 minute Video:


S.H : “Is Project Starfish planning to expand its initiative to other countries or continents in the world?”

S.A : “We are already global in 6 to 7 countries. in 4 continents. We want to be in every country in the world.”


S.H : “Can you share the hiring and training process involved in preparing candidates to real-life working experience?”

S.A : “Our process of hiring and training is exceptionally matured. We do not look for skills really or talent, everyone has some talent or skill, but what determines success is “attitude”. We select attitude and then we build skills. We have a tremendous process where we teach our professionals knowledge based skills that the industry requires, they work on hands on projects with small business to gain the experience and go through our knowledge based learning to create learning and understand how to network with businesses. Whatever we do is “experiential” meaning “hands on” and learn by experience. It is a complex process, but it works.”


S.H : “Does Project Starfish gather candidates accordingly to a specific age group or educational background? Is there any fundamental characteristics that you are looking in candidates?”

S.A : “We are attitude and leadership based. Meaning it has no connection to age or educational background. We only look for attitude, communication skills and ability to use a computer etc.”


S.H : “According to the information provided from Project STARFISH website, candidates are trained in the contemporary business skills such as sales, marketing, social media promo etc. Is there any additional tool needed to train them?”

S.A : “We are in the knowledge industry. Where simple synthesis of knowledge can be learned and used as an enabler to create value for companies. We use different models of learning which use simple technology, however as we grow we will be starting to use a lot of cloud technologies for CRM, Biz Ops, tracking, training etc.”


Employment Chart

Companies That Work with Project STARFISH Recruitment Program

An Interview with Supahands’s SupaAgent Project STARFISH Malaysia Country Lead


People who are blind and visually impaired can, and do, use computers, phones, and other electronic devices just as much as sighted people as well. People who are blind just have different ways of accessing these devices. They use assistive technology such as screen readers to interact with desktop and laptop. – Siti Aleena, Project STARFISH Malaysia Country Lead & a Supahands’s SupaAgent


S.H : “Share with us a little bit about yourself”

Siti Aleena (A.L) : “My name is Siti Nur Aleena Che Ramli . I am a visually impaired person since the past 3 years. I have a degree in Digital Media and over 9 years of experience in the area of customer service and financial administration in HSBC and one of the leading banks in Malaysia. I possessed astute business understanding from services to administration and a sales oriented person and able to identify, exploit, take advantage of and fully developed any marketing opportunity that comes my way. I am currently with Project Starfish America as a Country Lead for Malaysia and have been involved with projects from various countries such as Zonopact Inc. {USA} , Holisol Logistic { India} , and etc for business research , marketing or even crowd funding campaign.”

S.H : “What made you want to become a SupaAgent?

A.L : “Being a professional with disability is not easy. Imagine even though with years of working experiences, there is no job opportunities as most office does not provide any assistive technology on their computer and limited mobility . Supahands, offers rewarding part-time jobs to people who are down with the idea of remote working. I am able to work from home with my own computer without any hassle of travelling and whenever you want to. Aside from that, I get to learn new skills during the project assignment and the Hands’ payment system ensures that the SupaAgents will be paid accordingly based on the amount of work that they have done. Beside, being freelancer and working virtually , it allow me to manage my time well while get to do multiple projects and have the opportunity to work with various companies from all over the world such as America , India , Philippines and etc.”

S.H : “What type of technology is used to help with completing Supahands tasks?”

A.L : “People who are blind and visually impaired can, and do, use computers, phones, and other electronic devices just as much as sighted people as well. People who are blind just have different ways of accessing these devices. They use assistive technology such as screen readers to interact with desktop and laptop. Screen readers software allow users who are blind and visually impaired to navigate the computer and access most of its functions with keyboard shortcuts and give audio feedback. Here is where i am able to execute and complete my Supahands task on a computer like business research, writing a report or updating data on excel sheets.

We also use screen readers on touch screen phones and tablets. As for the calling task, I will be communicating to the other party on the phone and simultaneously listening to voice over from the computer screen reader in order to update data accordingly .Advances in assistive technology have made it increasingly more possible for people who are blind and visually impaired to learn, compete, and communicate on an equal playing field with their sighted peers.”

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