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Strive Community

New program addresses Grab driver partners’ high demand for business training

Southeast Asia’s leading superapp, Grab, has become central to life across the region. As the “everyday everything” app, Grab provides food, grocery, and courier deliveries, as well as ride-hailing and financial services. It’s a booming market — ride-hailing and food delivery in Southeast Asia is forecast to reach $42 billion by 2025.

More than five million driver partners and four million merchant partners earn their livelihoods through Grab, helping to meet the growing demand of the superapp’s large customer base. As was the case all over the globe, these drivers and merchants were thrown into the frontline of critical service provision during the COVID-19 pandemic. While ride-hailing services were hit hard by lockdowns, Grab quickly adapted, repurposing its ride-hailing drivers for on-demand deliveries of groceries and other goods. Delivery drivers were a crucial part of managing movement restrictions for many populations throughout Southeast Asia.

Despite this timely pivot, and although Grab is now seeing a strengthening of its ride-hailing and food delivery services, drivers have faced a number of challenges over the past few years. With the pandemic recovery in sight, drivers are now looking for new opportunities to start a business. In fact, more than half of them requested training on starting a new business, in a survey conducted by Strive Community and Grab earlier this year. To support their business aspirations, Grab and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth have come together to offer drivers an entrepreneurship training tool kit.

The tool kit’s content is tailored to the specific needs, pain points, and goals of drivers gleaned through a comprehensive needs assessment based on a survey of just over 34,000 Grab drivers in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Drivers are keen to learn business skills.

The survey revealed an extremely high demand for training — 96% of drivers across all three countries are interested in business training. Interestingly, drivers expressed a desire to learn about starting a new business, especially in Indonesia, where this topic was the most requested. Most requested by drivers in the Philippines and Vietnam was training on expanding a business and increasing profits. While many trends were consistent across markets, there were some differences. Drivers in Indonesia, for example, were more interested in online marketing than those in the Philippines and Vietnam; and drivers in Vietnam were more interested in managing staff and leadership than respondents in the other markets.

“I’m also interested to know how to start a business with just a small capital. Today, many people don’t have [a] budget due to the pandemic. I also want to know how to expand a business without having to shell out huge capital.” — Driver (52), Philippines

Drivers are interested in vehicle repair, retail, and restaurants.

Drivers were also asked about the sectors in which they were interested in starting a business. The top three sectors drivers identified were vehicle repair and maintenance (this was the top sector identified in both the Philippines and Vietnam) as well as retail and restaurants (these two sectors were tied in Indonesia). These findings were echoed in the qualitative in-depth interviews with drivers and other small businesses, many of whom were interested in starting food and beverage-related businesses.

“I want to develop a cold beverage business. I would like to know how to calculate the initial capital I need to put in. What skills do I need to learn so that the business can be sustainable and profitable?” — Driver (46), Indonesia

Videos are the best way to reach drivers with training content.

The quantitative in-app survey also asked drivers about their preferences for receiving training and whether they preferred training videos over live webinars. The survey also asked whether drivers preferred to learn from experts or from like-minded peers who were business owners (see below figure).

The majority of respondents preferred training via videos, with a slightly higher preference for those featuring experts. Just one-fifth of respondents preferred live webinars. For drivers who may find themselves with limited time to learn new business skills, watching videos — especially on digital devices — offers a promising channel for support via just-in-time training. Similar findings were reported by in-depth interviewees.

“I prefer online training, particularly since I am often embarrassed and nervous to ask questions if the training is face to face.” — Driver (35–44), Indonesia

“I use YouTube most of the time to know how to create tables, wood crafts, and more.” — Driver (52), Philippines

Based on the findings from the needs assessment, Strive Community’s three implementation partners — Tumbu Accelerator, WISE Vietnam, and Bayan Academy — recommended that the entrepreneurship training tool kit leverage a course of short videos on topics that were highlighted by respondents, such starting a new business in the three sectors prioritized by drivers, making a profit, and online marketing. In addition, the needs assessment identified a preference for videos featuring both experts and peers, so it was recommended that the training tool kit include both voices in content.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at the training needs of small merchants in Southeast Asia and how these needs have shaped the entrepreneurship training tool kit and our program in the region.

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Janet Shulist

Janet Shulist

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Insights Manager for Strive Community program, which will empower five million small businesses to survive and grow by going digital.