The app is Yookoo Rider. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/ANA
The app is Yookoo Rider. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/ANA
Businessman Kenny Kunene announced in April that he had invested an undisclosed amount in Johannesburg-based Yookoo Ride. Here he is seen with his team.
Businessman Kenny Kunene announced in April that he had invested an undisclosed amount in Johannesburg-based Yookoo Ride. Here he is seen with his team.
Johannesburg - While its established competitors in the e-hailing taxi business expect drivers to have their own cars or be employed by a vehicle owner, new player YooKoo Ride, which entered the foray in March this year, is empowering drivers who do not own cars.

“I’ve been in the e-hailing taxi business for four-and-a-half years and what we are seeing today is not only a company caring about upliftment of the disadvantaged but genuine empowerment.

"I’m honestly grateful to Yookoo for granting us the rare opportunity to be our own bosses," said Yookoo Ride driver Collen Rakhivhani, one of the recipients of a brand-new sedan.

Yookoo executive director of communications Steve Motale said the decision to empower drivers was necessitated by what they saw as the blatant exploitation of the working class by car rental companies. The company clinched an empowerment deal with one of its strategic partners in the automobile business.

“These car rental companies work as e-hailing companies and now they give these drivers cars, but in essence the drivers work for them and they don’t make much. We facilitate ownership of cars for the drivers. Now, we have negotiated with strategic partners in the automobile industry.”

Motale said for drivers to be considered, they needed police clearance to prove they had not been involved in criminal activities or been convicted of crime. 

Secondly, they must have a valid driver's licence and a proven a track record of being professional drivers, although it’s not that important.

“We, as Yookoo, stand as surety between them and the car dealership.

"They work for themselves. From what they make, they pay the car instalment and the insurance, and the rest is theirs. We only take our operational percentage of 10% - the least in the industry.”

Lolo Nobangela from Fury Motor Rent, the company that provides cars to Yookoo drivers, said, “As a company, we are committed to being part of any job creation or empowerment initiatives.”

Yookoo Ride handed out their first batch of 10 cars last week. In the coming weeks, they expect to receive 50 vehicles to distribute to a database of drivers who have already been vetted for the empowerment programme," said Motale.

“We are talking about unemployed people who are supposed to be breadwinners but can’t be because they are sitting at home with their licences and cannot find jobs. We made an appeal and they came in numbers to come and register.

“We’ve also made a special appeal to people who’ve got cars to join the e-hailing taxi industry and come and register their cars with us. If you’ve got your own car, but don’t want to operate yourself, you can hand it over to us and we provide it with a driver who is already vetted.”

Riders can download the Yookoo Rider app from Play Store or App Store.

The Sunday Independent