Taxi hailing app Uber is set to bring another American feature to India by launching its new programme Uber Fauji to create opportunities for ex-servicemen and women on its platform. Towards this, it has inked an agreement with the Army Welfare Placement Organisation (AWPO) under the Ministry of Defence. Uber will help ex-service members get access to vehicle loans so they can become drivers on the platform.
The programme is an Indian version of a programme Uber runs in the US by the name of Uber Military. The programme in the US asks veterans and their spouses to sign up to be Uber drivers. In February, the company had 10,000 veterans as part of its programme.
The AWPO is an organisation that assists in the placement of Indian Army ex-servicemen into private sector jobs and provide entrepreneurship opportunities. AWPO will give Uber a larger pool of reliable drivers, a major boost to its image which took a beating after one of its drivers was convicted of rape. AWPO has around 100,000 ex-servicemen on the books and a majority of them will be eligible to be part of the driver workforce. Under the agreement, AWPO will refer potential ex-servicemen who wish to become driver-partners on to the Uber platform and actively promote Uber to its members and encourage them to consider becoming Uber driver-partners.
Major General Deepak Sapra, MD, AWPO, stated, “At AWPO, we believe everyone who has served our country deserves the dignity to be able to support themselves when they return to the civilian workforce. That’s why we’re proud to be working with Uber to extend flexible, well paid work to thousands of our ex-service members.”
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Uber on the other hand, will create driver partner opportunities for 100,000+ ex-servicemen and women on the Uber platform through AWPO referrals and provide eligible ex-servicemen and women access to vehicle financing schemes through Uber’s vehicle solutions programme.
Amit Jain, President, Uber India stated, “At Uber, we understand that members of our armed forces are some of the nation’s most talented, committed and skilled people. It is our honour to provide access to opportunities and empowerment on the Uber platform.”
Uber has been working to create more and more entrepreneurial opportunities in India. In September, it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tamil Nadu Government to create over 30,000 “entrepreneurial opportunities” for drivers, as well as an opportunity to work with the government to together develop programs to improve technology as part of the region’s economic development. It will include training programs, building infrastructure and working on public-private partnerships around R&D.
In July, it signed a similar agreement with Telangana government to collaborate with the Telangana Academy for Skills and Knowledge (TASK) to identify and train over 2,000 candidates by the end of 2016, who will then drive on the Uber platform. The duo plans to create socio-economic opportunities for women and poor sections of the society. The company is also investing $50 Mn to build a state-of-the-art office in Hyderabad city housing about 500 employees in the next five years.
Additionally, Uber is also on a the spree to hire women drivers in a bid to enhance security for female passengers and equalize the employment opportunities. Presently, the company has more than 100 women driving Uber cabs which be extended to about 50,000 by 2020.
However, recently it also faced the ire of drivers in Bangalore who were protesting against reduction of incentives by the firm. In August too, it faced similar heat from over 500 registered drivers in Hyderabad. Cab drivers held protests accusing the company for not meeting its commitment on business and giving incentives. Uber had roped in about 15,000 drivers in the city and has given them a ‘joining incentive’ of $76 (INR 5k) and another $76(INR 5k) for those who referred others to join the network.
This is not the first time Uber has tried to replicate its successful US programmes in India. Uber Peer To Peer, a ride-sharing app, was launched in Punjab as a pilot last week. Uberpool, a car pooling service, is another concept that was strong in the US and was launched in September in India, starting with Bangalore.
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