There is no Uber without driver partners. They are the ones who translate your experience from the digital to the physical, striving to make each of your rides safe, secure and magical. It is true that there are also times when your experience is far from magical. It is, as I have come to believe, a case of Many Indias – commonly referred to as India’s diversity. Many Indias though has a few common traits. The driver partners, irrespective of their background — some are farmers, some are former factory workers, some are shopkeepers — are a true reflection of India’s entrepreneurial spirit and “Can Do” attitude. They are striving not just to give you a magical moment, but bring magic to the lives of their families and their loved ones.
At Uber, we are obsessed about making driver experience better. From how even minor tweaks to the user interface will impact them, to providing support in 7 languages or by bringing innovations, such as driver destination that allows them to choose a trip in the direction of their home at their discretion.
It is mind boggling to see just how impactful has Uber been. As many as 300,00 driver partners or about 1.5 million people are directly or indirectly benefited by Uber in India. Each a heart-warming story of perseverance, entrepreneurship, and transformation.
With great impact though comes even greater responsibility. At Uber we believe we are in a position to positively influence India’s evolving socio-economic structure and help our cities and its people lead better lives.
I speak to drivers on every trip, do employee driving once every quarter and attend two focused group discussions (Uber Samaaj) each month. The themes I hear are consistent — lack of a safety net, the aspiration to give their children the opportunities they didn’t have, and the ability to provide for both family exigencies as well as celebrations, such as weddings etc.
Last year, we launched on-trip accident insurance for the driver partners to protect their families. And now we have Uber Care, an industry-first initiative that is aimed at providing welfare choices to thousands of driver partners who choose to drive on the Uber app every day. Uber Care helps the driver partner seek health and life insurance and micro-credit opportunities from leading insurance and credit companies to safeguard and empower their families, and fulfil aspirations that may have gone abegging in their own lives.
We have already taken this to seven cities and early feedback is positive. A lot more needs to be done, including bringing newer programmes to the platform.
As part of the Uber Care kick-off, I visited Ranjeetkumar, a driver partner, and his family at their home in Mumbai. Meeting his wife, and his children Sweetie, and twins Aastha and Naman, was a humbling experience as they opened their home and heart to me. It also made Uber’s resolve stronger to do more. Because that is the right thing to do.
In Aastha and Naman, I actually saw my own 5-year-old daughter. Same aspirations, same love for drawing and an optimism for what the future holds. And I found myself sharing Ranjeet’s apprehensions as a father when he said, “When the going is good as is currently, everyone around is also supportive. But what if something was to happen to me or things were to turn for worse.”
Uber Care is our attempt at putting a supportive arm around the driver partners so we can make magic for them, just as they make magic for you — one ride at a time!