By Grace Vera Cruz, Country Head of Grab Philippines
While we saw a surge in activity during the pandemic, Grab’s Filipino partners have continued to thrive even after.
We recently celebrated our 11th anniversary in the Philippines. Today, food delivery apps are a way of life, but looking back, we can observe how the demand for delivery was always there―just fulfilled in different ways.
Before gig apps, food orders were taken via telephone calls and delivered to homes or picked up at designated points. The innovation that platforms brought was to introduce a multi-sided marketplace that matched consumers, delivery riders, and restaurants. The marketplace’s job is to automatically strike a fair price for all parties while making delivery happen reliably.
The gig economy in the Philippines really accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. In early 2020, all public transportation in the country ground to a halt, with urban mobility falling to 26 percent of the pre-lockdown level in the first month of restrictions.
Mobile-first Filipinos quickly went online for their essentials, fueling activity on on-demand platforms. This surge in demand allowed platforms like Grab to offer income opportunities to thousands of Filipino delivery-partners.
One of them, Marvin Almarez, had come from a six-year career in a travel agency as a liaison officer. With the global pandemic grounding flights and crippling his industry, Marvin was laid off when his employer had to suspend operations.
To continue his role as the family’s primary provider, Marvin joined GrabFood as a delivery-partner in June 2020. Being able to balance his life priorities with making deliveries, Marvin continues to be a part of the GrabFood fleet today as his primary means of livelihood.
Online marketplaces a lifeline for brick-and-mortar shops
The pandemic also had a widespread effect on micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs in the Philippines. As nationwide quarantines started, these businesses went online to tap on-demand delivery services as a lifeline.
Sisters and the founders of Thai Mango, Kimberly Baquiano-Hita and Jashmine Baquiano-Rufo, operated their brand under the GrabKitchen central kitchen model, to keep operating costs down.
Today, 60 per cent of Thai Mango’s sales continue to be driven by the Grab platform; the rest come from website orders, dine-in, and event catering.
ADB survey of 1,200 delivery-partners
To better understand the impact of gig economy employment during the pandemic, we worked with the Asian Development Bank in July 2022 to conduct a telephone survey of 1,200 GrabFood delivery-partners. The two-wheeler drivers collectively cover three large regions of operation: Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao.
The findings were heartening.
GrabFood delivery drivers in the Philippines indicated positive experiences, particularly because of flexible working hours, competitive earnings, and independent working conditions.
Most drivers work over five days a week, with three-quarters of the respondents working at least 11 hours a day.
The average driver earns 5,699 pesos (US$100) per week, more than the transportation industry mean. The average daily income of GrabFood delivery drivers was found to be approximately double the minimum wage across all three regions.
Most drivers belong to the prime working age group: 56 percent of the respondents are 26-35 years old while a quarter of them are 36-45 years old.
Driver-partners joined Grab from industries that halted during the pandemic, and most intend to stay
Just over 1 per cent of respondents were unemployed pre-pandemic and over half the drivers began their GrabFood delivery journey amid the coronavirus crisis. These highlight Grab’s role in helping them mitigate unemployment during the pandemic. Common previous industries they were in include construction, service, and sales.
Although the world is moving past Covid, 95 per cent of respondents said they intend to continue working as GrabFood delivery drivers-partners, thanks to the flexibility of gig work.
We know we can find another gear for our delivery partners as we look to grow gig economy employment in the Philippines and beyond.
74 percent of respondents saying they would recommend the job to female friends or relatives. Work flexibility, once again, was cited among the key benefits.
The ADB study emphasised the need for gig workers to have access to affordable medical insurance schemes. Grab’s health and safety schemes in the Philippines include accident and life insurance, medicine allowance, hospital assistance, amongst others.
In 2022, we were also the first platform in the Philippines to offer a multi-agency social protection programme for our partners, where we worked with government agencies such as DOLE, SSS, PAGIBIG, and PhilHealth, to make this happen.
How Grab works to raise driver earnings while keeping fares down
The survey reaffirms that we are living out our mission of creating flexible earning opportunities for thousands of Filipinos.
To continue providing sustainable earnings for drivers, the Grab team works to enhance driver productivity on the platform, by helping them reduce idle time and money spent waiting for the next opportunity.
To that end, we’ve introduced seamless processes such as back-to-back bookings, which looks for the next booking in the background while driver-partners are still completing their current trips. This helps line up the next booking and reduces idle time between bookings.
Another background process we have, allocation swap, looks out for driver-partners who are already assigned to bookings but may be nearer to another open booking. In those cases, our system will reassign them to the nearer one, raising efficiency and helping them save time and fuel.
By the end of 2023, we will offer zoning options for drivers who want to stick to areas where they’re more familiar with, so they can handle bookings with confidence. A feature called Personalised Alerts will push messages to driver-partners who are offline during times of predicted high demand, so that they don’t miss out on these opportunities too.
We look forward to continuing to enhance the livelihoods of our partners, deliver value to users, while building a sustainable ecosystem for all our stakeholders.