Coronavirus: Careem launches new donation fund for drivers

Drivers have struggled to cover living expenses as tips and orders stop

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A: A delivery driver goes about his duties as the country goes into lockdown for 2 weeks due to the corona virus. Wednesday, April 8th, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Dar Al Ber Society and ride-hailing app Careem will raise funds for Careem drivers and others suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Careem customers can donate to drivers using Careem Pay on the app. The first payments will be available from June and assist drivers with monthly car loan payments, groceries and food for families overseas.

“During these unusual times, and as we all reflect on what we value most, we at Careem are doubling down on our efforts to look out for our Captains while also finding new ways to serve our communities,” said Gheed El Makkaoui, general manager of Careem UAE, in a statement.

A contribution of Dh500 can provide essential needs for a month and Dh100 can provide food for a week, said Ms El Makkaoui.

Donations will be distributed based on several factors to employees who have applied for help with the company. A small portion goes to Dar Al Ber for administration costs.

Careem employees have also contributed to to help colleagues.

Mohammed Imran, a food delivery driver from Pakistan, said he had made a Dh20 donation. His own income has dropped by about 40 per cent since mid-March to Dh1,500 a month but he covers his living expenses by working 12 hour shifts. Additionally, many drivers no longer get tips since customers have stopped paying in cash.

“Just we survive," said Mr Imran. "What to do? We just manage because we don’t have another option.”

This month, Careem announced it will cut its workforce by 31 per cent after its ride-hailing businesses drop by as much as 90 per cent and its delivery business by 60 per cent.

Uber, which acquired Careem in a $3.1 billion (Dh11.4bn) deal last year, said it would cut 3,700 jobs.

Restaurant owners have also struggled due to the economic downturn and social distancing policies. Restaurant owners in Dubai came together to create their own food delivery platforms after food delivery aggregators refused to temporarily cut their commission rates of 25 to 35 per cent.

Careem reduced its commission by 15 per cent in March.