Published: 08th May 2020
Bengaluru-based Three Wheels United is helping autorickshaw drivers find work during lockdown
The finance company has partnered with online and offline grocery stores to ensure that the autorickshaw drivers work as delivery agents
The lockdown has impacted public transport in cities and especially those whose lives depend on it. Bengaluru's large fleet of autos is no exception to this. Ever wondered how the drivers are surviving this? The good folks at Three Wheels United, a Bengaluru-based finance company did. They have identified 400 auto drivers below the age of 50 not to ferry passengers but deliver groceries during the COVID-19 crisis.
How are they doing it? "When the lockdown was implemented, we partnered with online grocery stores for whom the drivers could deliver. We also collaborated with smaller grocery stores, who aren't online, to employ the drivers to do deliveries around their area," says Cedrick Tandong, founder and CEO.
This is not the first time that Three Wheels United and Cedrick are making the lives of auto drivers easier. They help provide low-risk and low-interest loans to auto drivers so they can own their own electric autos. Yes, they're also concerned about the environment and care about their carbon footprint. "We also create ways for them to earn and repay the loan by partnering with charging companies and ride aggregators," says Cedrick. During the lockdown, however, their loans have been restructured. "As per the government's directive they don't have to pay the installments for the three months," adds Cedrick.
Cedrick Tandong, Founder and CEO, Three Wheels United
They also have a comprehensive plan to train their drivers to adjust post-lockdown. Cedrick says they are ensuring that all drivers have access to digital payments, all vehicles are properly sanitised and that the drivers have adequate protective gear while on the job. They are also making efforts to communicate with passengers to help them identify autos that are safe to travel in.
So, what prompted Cedrick to help auto drivers? "When I first came to Bengaluru, I didn't have a good experience with the auto drivers. They had problems and I wanted to identify them and find a solution. About 70% of the auto drivers didn't own their vehicles and had to pay rent on a daily basis. They didn't have control over their working hours," he says, "I wanted to help them own their vehicle, which essentially doubles their income and gives them more control over their asset."
But it doesn't end there. If an auto driver wants to get insurance, proper documentation or even open a bank account, Three Wheels United will be there every step of the way. And this is all for free. They have empowered over 32,000 drivers in Bengaluru and have helped another 3,000 own their own electric vehicle.
Three Wheels United collaborates with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who work closely with auto drivers and their families. "When someone requires a loan, we get a request. After a verification process, a local bank provides them the loan and we help manage it till they repay it," explains Cedrick.