At Least Uber Gives Drivers the Chance to Be Entrepreneurs
Beleaguered Uber was considered the apotheosis of the sharing economy until recently.
As an entrepreneur on the go, you have probably used the services of Uber. It's very convenient to pull out your phone and use the app to order a ride to where you need to get to. This is especially true when you travel internationally. Taxi drivers in other countries -- more so at the airports -- often have a "tourist fare." They also do things like take you the long way to raise the fee. As someone who travels to 15 countries a year, I have experienced this more than a few times. Uber levels the playing field. You can land in a country, take out your phone, and feel secure knowing there's a level of accountability when you use the service.
Uber has been a great idea but the company itself has struggled at times with different problems within the company. You may have seen headlines about Uber drivers being unhappy, their work culture, the most recent story about harassment. In addition to the headlines, you have probably been drawn in or watched debates about Uber and whether or not you should support the company by using the service on your social media networks.
I don't work for Uber. I get no benefit for writing this article. I do think that Uber has a problem with their company culture and does need to examine how they treat their drivers. I understand all of the points that are being made and where the anger comes from. There's one important point that's not being made, however. Uber isn't just the company, its policies, and people within the company that need training and/or to be fired. Uber is also its drivers.
I've used Uber in 14 countries now. The experience outside of the United States is the same to better. It takes away a lot of the stress associated with transportation from the airport and how you'll get around a foreign country. That's on the user's end. On the driver side of things, Uber creates entrepreneurship in many ways and places.
In many parts of the world, driving for Uber is the only chance a person can have at supporting a family. The jobs aren't as plentiful or the ones that are available don't pay well. It could be someone with an odd schedule because of circumstances but the flexibility of Uber allows them to earn an income. Even here in the United States, it has helped people working full time jobs that don't pay enough to earn more money when it's convenient for their life.
In Colombia -- where I lived most of the last year -- the average minimum wage is $245.75 a month according to the Colombia Reports. That, of course, is if you can even get a job. To earn that mcuh money, you typically have to work 12 hours a day for six days a week. That's considered a good job in Colombia and in many parts of the world. Uber drivers say the opportunity to drive for Uber gives them a chance to earn a living in a decent way. I've heard many stories like this all over the world and even here in the United States.
It gives the drivers a flexible way to earn a decent living and that helps many different groups of people. It creates entrepreneurship because the drivers decide when and where they want to work. They can do little things to stand out from other drivers and get better reviews. They can create a mini business that earns a solid income. Yes, there is service such as Lyft and others, but as someone who travels all the world every year, I can tell you that Lyft is not in as many countries as Uber. Some drivers are entrepreneurial and do both services.
Make your choice
Yes, Uber has some major problems that need to be addressed and fixed sooner than later. They could be a great company if they cleaned things up and hired strong leaders. But, know that when you use the service, you're also helping the drivers who are driving Uber for a very specific reason. You have to decide what's best for you and what you believe in, but know that the drivers and why they drive should be factored into your decision. Also, know that Uber creates entrepreneurship and in many places where there are limited options.