UberEats in drive to give wheels to Sri Lanka women partners, boost safety

ECONOMYNEXT – UberEats in Sri Lanka is working on arranging credit facilities for women drivers in their platform to get their own vehicles while safety upgrades are being rolled out to make work safer to increase female partners to a thousand in 2020, an official said.

“Something we have identified is a lot of females tends to be locked out because they do not have access to a vehicle,” Bhavna Dadlani, UberEats head in Sri Lanka told EconomyNext.

“To get around that we are currently identifying credit solutions through partnerships.

“The goal is to provide them micro loans so that they will be able to access vehicles and then join the platform soon after to start earning.”

Dadlani said that partnerships are being set up with banks to provide credit facilities.

Unlike East Asian countries where most females have scooters helped by low taxes and monetary stability, in Sri Lanka vehicles are taxed at high rates, putting personal mobility out of reach of ordinary people, particularly females’ analysts say.

Permanently depreciating currencies also lowers living standards.

UberEats has been encouraging women to join the platform under a targeted program which was started in October 2018.

“UberEats Diviyata Diriya’ translates into encouragement for life and is our umbrella initiative over here through which UberEats Sri Lanka pushes out entrepreneurial programs for the female communities,” Dadlani said.

“At that time we just had two female delivery partners on the platform. As of last month we have over a hundred female delivery partners across Sri Lanka.

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UberEats recently launched in Negombo adding to Colombo and Kandy cities.

“It is very interesting to see how these female partners have progressed in terms of financial independence,” Dadlani said.

“That has made us inspire to embark on our new initiative of empowering up to a thousand female partners at the end of year 2020.”

Economists say Sri Lanka has high female unemployment due to several barriers including laws, social attitudes and practical barriers that makes life difficult for females out of the house.

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At UberEats there are no fixed working hours either on a daily or weekly basis and the flexibility is on the biggest benefits female delivery partners have.

“They can even take a week off and come back to the platform when they want to,” Dadlani said. “So it is completely flexible and appealing to females, especially single moms.”

UberEats holds monthly focus group discussions with their female delivery riders where problems are discussed and acts as a forum where they are allowed to suggest solutions.

“One of the issues which cropped up on our sessions was sanitation requirements,” Dadlani said.

“Basically they might be spending long hours on the road with limited access to public toilets.

“Therefore what we did was tie up with our restaurant partners to provide sanitation facilities to help them get more comfortable on the road.”

“Another initiative UberEats has taken was to provide martial arts classes for their female riders for self-defence.”

Free insurance, geo-blocking of unsafe areas, and a ‘safety toolkit’ were introduced to ensure safety for female riders.

The safety tool kit comes with two options where the female rider can share their location live through GPS tracking with trusted persons and a direct hotline for emergency situations which will alert the local police forces. (Colombo/Mar06/2020)

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