Grab’s CEO releases statement to address challenges of COVID-19

Anthony Tan, chief executive officer (CEO) of Grab, issued a statement that addresses the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to its business and partners, highlighting what the tech giant is doing to overcome the challenges of the global outbreak.

Below is the full message from Grab’s CEO:

“I hope this note finds you and your family safe and well. It has been a trying period for all of us and I wanted to take this opportunity to have a frank discussion about the impact COVID-19 is having on our business and our ecosystem of partners.

COVID-19 is the single biggest crisis to affect Grab in the eight years of our existence. It has had an unprecedented impact on our operations, our business and the livelihoods of our partners.

Viktor Frankl once wrote, ‘When humanity is faced with an impossible set of challenges, we are challenged to change ourselves.’ COVID-19 and the global economic devastation in its wake are those impossible challenges, and we are rapidly changing our business to overcome that challenge.

Impact on our business

In cities and countries where there are movement restrictions, we have seen a sharp decline in our ride-hailing business with volumes in some countries down by double-digit percentages.

Our deliveries business is faring better. Stay-at-home measures are prompting consumers to order in food and groceries, contributing to demand for GrabFood and GrabExpress. To better serve our users who remain at home, we are expanding GrabMart, Grab’s daily essentials delivery service, and Grab’s on-demand concierge service GrabAssistant to more cities and countries. This in turn creates additional income opportunities for our drivers during this critical period.

While the full economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic is unclear, there will be tough decisions and trade-offs to make as we continue to evaluate its impact on our business. We will right-size our costs, manage our capital efficiently and make the necessary operational adjustments in order to weather the storm and carve out a path to profitability.

Community assistance

The spread of COVID-19 has devastated the livelihoods of our partners and upended everyday life for millions of our customers. Our driver-partners are now finding it difficult to support their families, and our merchant friends are facing store closures and disruptions to their supply chain.

Our immediate priority in the last couple of months has been to support our driver- and merchant-partners during this very difficult time, including a committed spend of $40 million in relief initiatives for the region.

The relief initiatives include a financial assistance scheme for driver-partners who are stricken with COVID-19, so they can focus on recovering rather than worrying about putting food on the table. We are also working with non-government organisations to distribute food staples to needy driver-partners. For example, we recently distributed 80 tonnes of rice to drivers in Vietnam.

For restaurants and small food merchants, the crisis has led to a decline in footfall. To help small food merchants stabilise their business, we are moving them online as quickly as possible and offering commission rebates, commission deferrals and marketing support so they can better manage their cash flow during this period. Open-air bazaars and wet markets that have not changed their operational models for centuries now face an existential threat in COVID-19, and we are actively bringing them online so they too can reach more customers.

Frontline healthcare workers are risking their lives to protect ours. We are working closely with governments and hospitals to aid frontline workers by providing specialised dedicated services like medicine delivery and non-emergency ambulances, in order to ease the burden on public healthcare systems.

Stronger together

Ultimately, the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting acts of community kindness remind us that we are nothing without each other. At Grab, we are committed to serving others. Though the impact of this crisis may last years, we cannot lose sight of our north star – the people and businesses who depend on us for a living, our customers who rely on our services more than ever and our broader community that is working hard to adapt to a new normal brought about by this pandemic.

We will devote our operational resources to alleviate the pain felt by our partners. We will use our technology to aid governments and healthcare providers and we will build relevant services to give customers what they need, now.

COVID-19 is an exceptionally difficult generational challenge. But while it looks dire, we are in better stead to face this crisis today than decades ago, because we have the tools and technology to help us find solutions. COVID-19 will require exceptional effort from all levels of society to overcome. We must rise to meet this challenge with new solutions, so that decades from now, when facing another generational crisis, we can say that the tools of the future were built today. 

I’m praying for all of us. Stay safe and strong.”

As included in Tan’s statement, Grab is expanding GrabMart and GrabAssistant to more cities and countries to further serve customers who are staying at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

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