Covid-19 Changemakers: Anthony Tan’s Grab Adapts and Rolls Out Initiatives To Aid Drivers
As soon as Covid-19 started spreading, Grab—which has evolved from a ride-hailing platform to include food delivery, insurance and e-payment services—began offering myriad initiatives to help its community of drivers and merchant partners ride out some of the most severe impacts of the pandemic.
It started several of them to alleviate the “immense financial anxiety caused by Covid-19”, said group CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan. The company extended financial assistance to drivers affected by the virus as well as insurance protection and earnings support for eligible drivers. These are funded in part by voluntary Grab employee donations that are matched dollar for dollar by the company.
Grab has also distributed more than one million masks and bottles of hand sanitiser across the region to further safeguard customers and partners.
Five days after Singapore raised its alert level to orange, GrabCare was introduced. The on-demand service, which reportedly took less than 72 hours to develop, allows frontline healthcare workers in Singapore to secure rides to and from hospitals at any time of day. In one day, 2,000 of its drivers registered their support by signing up to be part of this dedicated service.
“It’s in times of need when we know who our true everyday heroes are. I truly believe that this kampung spirit, caring for each other as one community, is what will get us through this,” Tan said on LinkedIn. Grab also announced that its senior leadership team would take a 20 per cent pay cut.
Outside Singapore, GrabMart, a delivery service for essential items from grocery stores and pharmacies, was expanded to the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia. GrabAssistant was also concurrently launched in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam to help people run errands via its on-demand service.
In April, Singapore imposed its own set of strict “circuit breaker” measures: businesses and offices other than those providing essential services were to close for a month and schools were shut, in addition to those bars and entertainment venues already shuttered. Ridership was certain to plunge further.
To that end, Grab responded by rolling out more initiatives to cushion the impact on its 2.7 million drivers. Commissions that drivers usually pay Grab per ride were cut by half, while those who lease their cars from the company were told they would pay no commission. Rental fees were also reduced by 30 per cent, with an option to defer 20 per cent of rental costs for six months.
To supplement the incomes for drivers due to fewer trips being booked, Grab also partnered with the Land Transport Authority to allow drivers to take on food and parcel deliveries. The regional support package is said to have cost Grab close to US$40 million to date.
“Frontliners such as medical professionals, cleaners, drivers, delivery, restaurant staff, security and many others put themselves at risk daily to keep our cities running. Even as our mettle is tested, let us continue to care for each other so we can all emerge from this stronger,” said Tan. “It’s all of us against Covid-19.”