Ride-hailing service launches financial support initiatives for drivers

KARACHI: Ride-hailing company Careem has announced initiatives to support their captains (drivers) as mobility through ride-hailing becomes restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Careem explains captains are self-employed individuals earning daily wages through Careem’s platforms and the company has come up with the following ways to extend meaningful support through its ‘BE CAREEM’ initiatives.

Careem has partnered with MicroEnsure to facilitate captains’ health insurance in Pakistan. The low-cost insurance policies start from Rs163 to Rs569 per month and cover hospitalization and ICU admission in case the captain or their family members are tested positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with any other disease.

There is also a ‘Captain Sick Pay Policy’ whereby Careem has announced financial support for two weeks to any captain who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in individual quarantine by a public health authority.

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The press release issued by Careem also said that the company is leading discussions with financial institutions to provide flexibility to captains for car loan payments, and is actively engaging governments on fee and stimulus programmes as part of financing support.

Careem has also partnered with NGOs to help distribute ration packages across the most affected communities in the country including captains until mobility restrictions are relaxed. Teams have distributed free sanitizers and masks where they were able to procure them as well.

Additionally, Careem colleagues across the network have donated generous sums of personal money to captains. Some have even contributed their salaries for the rest of the year, said the press release.

Careem Pakistan Country General Manager Zeeshan Hasib Baig said, “Captains are the heart of what we do at Careem, and we appreciate and value their selfless service to our customers and communities in these unprecedented times. We understand that many of our captains rely on Careem as a single source of income to provide for their loved ones, and we are here to support them and their families in times of need to the best our ability.”

‘MAY NOT BE ENOUGH’

Despite all the efforts made, it may simply not be enough, as highlighted in an open letter to relevant governments, financial institutions, businesses and the general public by Mudassir Sheikha, Careem Founder and CEO, to help Careem help captains in their time of need.

The letter stated, “There is no easy way to describe it: our captains are in grave danger of losing everything. If we focus just on Careem’s half a million active captains and assume they need just $500 a month as a bare minimum to cover their most basic financial needs, the captain community needs the financial support of $250 million per month. It is not feasible for Careem or any other company to fill this gap on its own.”

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Syeda Masooma
Writer is business reporter at Pakistan Today

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