MaNaBu Movement Youth Virtual Assistance Program 

Started in March 2023
Empowering Youth in the Balkans with Skills, Mentoring, and Community, for global remote work opportunities.

It started with a 9 year old girl

In the summer of 2022, nine-year-old #MayaGerdes visited TUMO Tirana and was moved by a BBC news report on the challenges faced by Albanian youth. Wondering, ‘Why not empower them to earn through technology right where they are?’, she sparked a transformative idea. Responding to her curiosity, the MaNaBu Movement, in collaboration with Maya, initiated the Youth Virtual Assistance Program.

Empowering Young People in the Balkans with Skills and Opportunities

The mission of the MaNaBu Movement Youth Virtual Assistance Program is to empower teenagers and young adults in the Balkan area with remote working skills, tools, and internationally recognized certifications. It is an opportunity for young people to learn about and develop in-demand skills while being supported in their transition from school to work so they can find the right balance in their lives.

This project aims to bring hope and new possibilities to the Balkans. It seeks to prevent the vilification of immigrants and the exponential rise of those who flee to developed countries and embark on dangerous journeys in search of a better life.

Pilot Phase in Albania and Expansion to Kosovo

The MaNaBu program, led by Lumjana Shehu and Tihana Pavic Smitran, launched a pilot with 12 youths in Tirana, Albania, in partnership with the Virtual Excellence Academy and TUMO Tirana.

After a successful pilot phase, the initiative received backing from GIZ Kosovo, courtesy of the German Federal Government, leading to an expansion into Kosovo. This expansion was preceded by a fact-finding trip to Kosovo and a subsequent meeting between Tobias Seiberlich from GIZ and Andreas Wil Gerdes in Bansko, setting the stage for 24 young adults in Kosovo to commence their transformative journey with the program.




Program outlines

Youth Virtual Assistant Certification Program (Business Essentials for Success)
Mentorship Cycle (mentors with global reach and track record)
Individual sessions with lead educator
30,000 Virtual Assistants Global Network - becoming Alumnae

Program Methodology

Self-paced digital course with videos, audio, worksheets, and ongoing live events to enhance their learning journey within a large, engaged peer group. The youth program is accompanied by on-the-ground support for day-to-day accountability, mentorship and guidance. Each module is designed with bite-sized action steps so that students can get immediate feedback and see the results of their learning. They can immediately put into action what they have learned.

Student testimonials

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Tihana Pavic Smitran

Tihana, an entrepreneurial spirit and innovative leader, advocates for sustainable development and empowers youth globally through innovative tech and life-centric learning. Her ventures reflect a commitment to a regenerative economy, balancing profit with planetary and people's value.

Shaped by wartime challenges, her resilience as a pianist and athlete inspired her dedication to supporting and uplifting children in adversity. Honored as Croatia's 'Best Startup Female Entrepreneur' in 2017, she is a recognized US State Department Professional Fellow and alumna of prestigious tech and innovation programs, holding an MA in Finance and multiple leadership certifications.

Andreas Wil Gerdes

Andreas Wil Gerdes, a pioneer in the digital nomad space, revolutionized remote work technology and made his mark in the telecom sector. By 20, he had sold his first venture, which evolved into a part of Orange PLC, and was later honored among the 'Elite of the Future' by top European firms. Featured in '101 Leaders of the New Economy,'

Andreas's true passion lies in advocating for a 'life-centric' approach to parenting, championing quality time with children over traditional norms, a vision shared by fellow digital nomad parents like Lona Alia and Lizz Quain.

Lumjana Shehu

Passion-driven Youth Empowerment Advocate and Marketing Manager focused on leveraging social media and new tech to drive positive change and reshape our world.

With a background as an Albanian refugee, she has lived across Greece, Canada, and the U.S., confronting numerous challenges as an immigrant but gaining invaluable experiences.

Her personal narrative of resilience fuels her mission to empower the next generation to shape their destinies how they want.

Enes Petromilo

Enes Petromilo is a vibrant young professional from Tirana, Albania, with a deep-seated passion for blending communication and creativity. His passion has always been engaging in projects that merge these interests, both professionally and personally.

As a dynamic communicator and creative thinker, he’s committed to driving positive change and fostering an environment where potential meets opportunity.


Hannah Dixon

Hannah Dixon

CEO, The Virtual Excellence Academy: VA & Freelance Coach, Recruiter, 30k+ Global Learners, DEI Integral, Youth VA Training Lead, MaNaBu (NPO)

GIZ/GIZ Kosovo

GIZ/GIZ Kosovo

As a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work, we are dedicated to shaping a future worth living around the world.

TUMO Tirana

TUMO Tirana

TUMO is a new kind of educational experience at the intersection of technology and design.

At TUMO, teens take charge of their own learning, gaining cutting-edge skills in the fields that matter today.

Teens combine self-learning activities, workshops, and learning labs, picking and choosing from whatever piques their interest.

Digital Nomad's Kit

Digital Nomad Kit’s mission is to provide tools, entrepreneurship, and self-leadership training to inspire a diversity of individuals worldwide in building virtual assistance businesses, unlocking global opportunities and personal freedoms.

Virtual Assistants meaning HERE.