Cash Rich Uber Crowdfunding for Drivers in India

Cash Rich Uber Crowdfunding for Drivers in India

Uber Contributes Just $3 Million, CEO Makes $45 Million

San Francisco (April 17, 2020): Cash rich Uber Technologies Inc., whose stocks “skyrocketed” 43% last month after it reported unrestricted cash reserves of US$10 billion to see it through the COVID-19 pandemic unharmed, has turned to crowdfunding to ostensibly support its drivers in India.

Uber announced the launch of the “Uber Care Driver Fund” in India last week with a seed grant of INR 25 crore (approx. US$ 3 million) to assist drivers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, although there is no clarity on the criteria on qualifying for the fund, for how much, and the number of beneficiaries.

The company also announced that it is seeking an additional INR 25 crore from other sources, and included a link to donate via a prominent Indian crowdsourcing website, Milaap, in a press note dated April 9, 2020.

Rideshare drivers in India have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, first with the market for rides drying up with a national lockdown in effect, and now with the government of India banning all cab aggregators until May 3, 2020.

Uber drivers in India had already been under financial duress prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Uber (and its competitor, Ola, which is also, like Uber, partly owned by SoftBank) cutting financial incentives to drivers.

Underscoring the desperate financial situation of many drivers, Sanjay Samrat, driver-organizer in Delhi, told the Times of India on April 14 that, “The drivers will die of starvation even if they don’t succumb to the coronavirus.”

In Bengaluru, the Hindu Business Line reports on April 16 of rideshare driver Gangadhara C, whose family has had to resort to one meal a day because of no income and no support.

“I have my wife, two boys aged 3 and 6, and my mother who depend on me, and I feel terrible that instead of three meals a day, we have one meal and fill our stomachs with plenty of water after that.”

Trying to build a positive image of itself during the pandemic, Uber has offered its drivers in India for the hazardous job of transporting “frontline healthcare providers to and from their homes as well to healthcare and medical facilities, through our new service – UberMedic.”

India is an important market for India, among its top 3 markets, accounting for about 10% of the company’s trips globally in 2018.

Although the number of Uber drivers in India remains elusive, some estimate that “1.5 million Indians drive for Uber, Ola and other ride-hailing companies” in India, with Uber claiming to have over 50% of the market share.

“It is obscene that such a rich company, with over $10 billion at its disposal, leaves its drivers high and dry in India, and the brink of starvation”, said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning group.

“A $3 million contribution to support over half a million drivers at the risk of starvation is a measly amount for such a cash rich company, and looking to crowdfunding to raise additional funds is indicative of a morally defunct company, especially considering what it pays its executives.”

While Uber has contributed just $3 million to the India driver fund to ostensibly support over half a million drivers, just one person, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, received a total package worth $45 million in 2018, according to the company’s filing with the SEC.

In addition, the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operation Officer for Uber received packages of $28 million and $48 million, respectively.

“Uber should get its act together, and use the $10 billion it has at its disposal to assist its drivers – who have built the company by providing their labor, time and assets – globally.”


Amit Srivastava, San Francisco +1 415 336 7584 E: info(AT)IndiaResource.org

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