WORDS Ibba Rasul-Bernardo
TALES OF FOUR TYPES OF UBER/GRAB OPERATORS:
1. The Investor: The investor has some extra cash and instead of setting up a Potato Corner franchise decides to buy a car and hire a driver and get into the Uber/ Grab biz. The challenges that face the Investor are finding a good driver. This is difficult because ,where do you find drivers? The second is keeping the driver. The Investor needs to recoup his expenses, gas, cost of the car and make a profit. The margins are way too small to support this. For the Investor, Uber/ Grab is bad business. The margins are way to low for them to recoup their expenses and share with the driver. So the driver leaves with a new skill and borrows cash from their brother in Saudi for a downpayment on their own car.
2. The Worker: The Worker has their own car, or can almost afford one. They think it’s a good idea to supplement their income by being a Uber/Grab operator because they drive from some residential, south or north, to some commercial business district like Pasig, BGC or Makati. The problem The Worker faces is that after an hour and a half commute to work and a two hour commute home they now add at least two more hours of driving to make a tiny bit of cash. They end up driving three to four times a week and maybe earn enough to pay the monthly for their car. It’s a pain, and it’s hard work. But hey, they own a car.
3. The Bossing: The Bossing is a junior executive with a driver. The driver has a fixed routine. Bring the kids to school, bring Bossing to work, pick up the kids, bring Bossing home. Manong driver used to have a couple hours free to chill, but now in those times when he used to nap in the car he’s out picking up peeps and maximizing Bossing’s asset.
4. The Pro: The pro is an Overseas Filipino Worker, or the sibling of one. He’s got barely enough to make a downpayment on an entry level manual car. He wakes up at 4am to catch the office morning rush till 10am. He then takes a one hour nap someplace then hits the road again at 1130am and drives till 2pm, maybe he heads home or maybe he just parks and grabs a bite. Then at 4pm till 10pm he hits the road and catches the workers heading home. He does this everyday, because he needs to hit the incentives and bonuses that Uber and Grab set to make money.
In the first world, Uber is under attack because of a lot of things, sexism, business practices, sneakily bypassing regulators to name a few. They’re even banned in many countries. But in most cases it’s in countries that have decent commuting infrastructure where there is a clear usable and safe alternative for both the driver and the commuter. In the Philippines that is not the case. Uber and Grab drivers here work long and ridiculous hours. But what blows my mind is that they’re all pretty happy. They are independent, own their own car, and work their own hours. In a country with limited options, at least they have one more and at least we as commuters have one or two more too.
Ibrahim ‘Ibba’ Rasul - Bernardo has been working with marginalized and underprivileged groups by giving them access to relevant technology. An IT entrepreneur since he was 22, he’s the founder and CEO of Sari Software Solutions. Ibba also wears other hats as a technology and motorcycle journalist, entrepreneur and IT lecturer and is currently the founder of IAM360, a Virtual Reality startup based out of Hong Kong.