Grab contributed $8b to South-east Asia economy in a year

Grab said that there were about nine million micro-entrepreneurs on its platform as at Aug 31, 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Grab said it contributed US$5.8 billion (S$8 billion) to South-east Asia's economy in the 12 months leading up to March 2019, through driver, delivery, merchant and agent incomes and sales generated through its platform and Grab unit Kudo.

In its inaugural social impact report released on Tuesday (Sept 24), Grab said that there were about nine million micro-entrepreneurs on its platform as at Aug 31 this year. That means one in 70 South-east Asians have earned an income through the Grab platform.

Just a year and a half ago, the number of micro-entrepreneurs on the platform was 2.6 million, according to data as at March 2018.

Grab, which offers financial products through its unit Grab Financial, also estimates that one in four drivers who have received financing products from the group would have been turned down by traditional banks. Reasons for rejection include failing to meet an income threshold and the lack of supporting documents.

Independent consultancy firm Dalberg advised the methodology for analyses on key social impact metrics in the report, while Grab's financial statement auditor KPMG independently verified the social-economic calculation based on agreed upon procedures.

At its social impact conference in Jakarta, Grab announced three goals to be achieved by 2025 under its "Grab for Good" programme. The company wants to bring digital literacy and greater inclusion to three million South-east Asians through partnerships with governments, private companies and non-profit organisations. The three million comprise micro-entrepreneurs with Grab.

The firm also aims to help over five million more traditional businesses and small merchants to digitise their workflow and processes.

To address the shortage of tech talent, Grab is targeting to train 20,000 students through tech initiatives in partnership with educational institutions, non-profit organisations and leading tech firms.

To achieve these goals, the company has entered into a regional partnership with Microsoft to upskill workers and increase digital literacy. Besides training university students, the two firms will create a pathway for interested drivers to pursue tech careers. Drivers who have been through a tailored programme will be matched for interviews with Grab and Microsoft partner companies for tech roles.

Grab is also expanding its "Break the Silence" initiative for deaf drivers to include Indonesia and Singapore, in addition to Malaysia and Thailand. In the coming weeks, it will announce partnerships with various organisations for the deaf and hearing-impaired.

"Over the past seven years, Grab has grown from a small scrappy startup offering taxis-on-demand into a company operating in eight countries and 339 cities, and employing thousands in our offices," said Grab co-founder and CEO Anthony Tan to a roomful of partners, international media and top Indonesian government officials.

"This is something we are proud of, but it is clearly not enough. As South-east Asia grows from strength to strength, and Grab from milestone to milestone, we have an ever-increasing responsibility to really show that we truly serve the communities that we live in."

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