South Africa: Uber and WesBank ink multimillion-rand partnership

Uber's new app turns smartphone into an automatic crash detector
Uber's new app turns smartphone into an automatic crash detector
Etisalat Uber
This programme is valued at more than R200 million. (Image Source:

The economic prospects of professional drivers in South Africa’s passenger transport industry are set to be transformed due to a new multimillion-rand vehicle solutions programme.

This will offer, according to Uber, driver-partners unprecedented low monthly rates and access not based purely on credit ratings, but rather eligibility determined by their established earnings and quality record with Uber.

The programme is the result of a partnership between Uber, the technology company that connects riders with professional drivers, and WesBank, a vehicle and asset finance provider.

In terms of the partnership, Uber now offers existing driver-partners access to a specially designed full maintenance lease programme, enabling them to gain access to a vehicle at preferential rates, with a view to establishing their own passenger transport business in partnership and with the help of Uber’s technology.

This programme is valued at more than R200 million. It was developed by WesBank in collaboration with FirstRand’s Enterprise Development Fund, Vumela, which has pledged R20 million for the first 1 000 vehicles. Vumela will provide WesBank with financial risk mitigation and support measures, which will enable the provision of the full maintenance lease option to Uber driver-partners.

According to Alon Lits, Regional General Manager for Uber in Sub-Saharan Africa, this programme has the potential to change the lives of many Uber driver-partners. “Anyone who has been driving using the Uber app for a reasonable time and has a good earnings and quality record, now has the opportunity to acquire a brand new car and start their own business full time,” he explains, “and because the programme developed with WesBank offers rates that are significantly more competitive than these drivers would otherwise have been able to obtain, their business ventures have a far better chance of succeeding in the long term.”

Chris de Kock, CEO of WesBank, concurs, and points out that the Uber & WesBank full maintenance lease program is the result of a shared commitment to innovative business principles. “We have recognised Uber’s ability to disrupt and transform the transport industry, while creating work opportunities for thousands of people across the world,” says de Kock. “Just as Uber has changed the way people think about transport, WesBank has changed the way people think about finance, resulting in the development of this game-changing programme.”

Heather Lowe, Head of Enterprise and Supplier Development at Vumela adds, “The need for the development of entrepreneurs in our economy has afforded us the unique opportunity to be part of the solution to this challenge. Uber, WesBank, and Vumela all recognise the need to collaborate within the private sector and support government in creating a sustainable future for our country.”

Importantly, this opportunity is not limited to drivers with an existing record of income with Uber but open to all prospective professional transport providers as well. Hertz, Europcar, Pace and Fleet Data Technologies have launched a short-term rental programme, negotiated by Uber, that gives drivers of metered taxis or other passenger transport vehicles the option of renting an accepted vehicle at improved rates. They can then use these vehicles, in partnership with Uber, until they have built an earnings and quality record needed to qualify for the full maintenance lease programme.

“People using Uber to get around have come to expect a reliable, affordable ride in a high quality car. We’ve seen many great drivers, who want to use Uber to boost their earnings but struggle to afford a vehicle that meets these standards,” Lits points out. “The option to rent a vehicle at more affordable rates removes this barrier for metered taxi drivers and other professional drivers who want to increase their chances for profit.”

These two vehicle solution programmes form part of Uber’s ongoing commitment to opening the technology platform to new operators and empowering existing drivers to establish themselves as small business owners.

Lits explains that the goal is to enable 15 000 new work opportunities for driver-partners across South Africa in the next two years. “Our partnership with WesBank and Vumela is helping us ensure everyone in the transport industry has the opportunity to become an entrepreneur and enjoy the flexibility and enhanced earnings potential, and better quality of life, of being their own boss,” he emphasises.

Editor: Darryl Linington