How Careem is creating value across more than 70 cities in MENA region

What is a true indication of a successful company? One that creates value is a common definition, but value in terms of what: economic, innovation, job creation, sustainability? Why not all of the above?

Careem is a home-grown brand; from the region, for the region. In just five years since its inception in 2012, Careem has launched its service in more than 70 cities across MENA, delivering millions of rides with an ever-increasing fleet operated by 250,000 captains in the region. Taking the lead in markets other companies shy away from, Careem has moved from one success to the next. As the largest mover of people across the MENA region, the company’s top three markets in terms of growth are KSA, Egypt, and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia was one of the first markets in which Careem expanded outside of the UAE, launching service in Riyadh in October 2013, Dammam one month later and Jeddah two months after that. Now, Careem serves a total of more than 40 cities across Saudi Arabia, employing nearly 60,500 captains, providing over 67% of their rides to women, and doubling growth rates every quarter.

Overcoming the initial challenges in KSA was no small feat. As the first car-hailing app in Saudi Arabia, public infrastructure was still developing and the quality of both public and private taxis was lacking. With that in mind, Careem also faced the challenge of finding quality Captains to meet the company’s exacting standards and, similarly, convincing the public that their Saudi captains were capable of offering superior service. Careem is a local job creator with a difference. The company’s immersive and comprehensive Captain training programme ensures the best and brightest Captains are given the green light as Careem representatives. Careem’s business model is built on the quality and consistency of the customer experience it delivers. As such, the company’s stellar customer service, Careem Care, has also played a significant role in ensuring customers receive top-quality service every single ride.

Careem launched its operations in Egypt in 2014, starting in Cairo before moving into Alexandria and across the country. The company currently serves 10 cities in Egypt with more in the pipeline. With more than 50,000 captains already working in Egypt, Careem has set an extremely ambitious goal to reach a total of 100,000 captains in the country by the end of 2017. At an annual growth rate in Egypt of 1,000%, Careem directly employs more than 500 team members in the country including the company’s call centre agents based in Cairo.

Launching any business in Egypt requires a certain level of finesse, which is something Careem recognized in its local operations. The company is recognised for its bold, innovation-focused approach to redefining the future of the transportation sector in the region and Egypt is certainly no exception. The company opted to integrate preexisting white taxis into its Egypt operations, providing 42,000 drivers of white taxi cabs the opportunity to be part of Careem’s fleet by joining the app in accordance with Careem’s global criteria and standards. By integrating white taxis, Careem’s network caters to the needs of an even wider group of Egyptians by providing a safe, reliable and efficient means of transport. This cooperative arrangement is a clear reflection of the ways in which Careem’s ecosystem is equipped to upscale the business and open new opportunities in the Egyptian market. In fact, the company has played a crucial role in helping formalise the industry by tracking the entire ride-hailing cycle, contributing to economic development and transparency.

Careem kicked off its Pakistan service in Karachi in Islamabad in March 2015, quickly followed by Lahore and Islamabad. Today, the company serves nine cities in Pakistan with 28% growth month to month. In their mission to create more than 100,000 jobs, Careem Pakistan is halfway there.

Careem operations across the region are customized to suit every market’s specific needs and cultural sensitivities. Specific to Saudi Arabia, Careem is the region’s only ride-hailing company to offer a dedicated cab service – ‘Careem One ‘– for people with special needs. Careem launched its delivery service to pick up and deliver orders and purchases, as well as Packages, the solution to everyday rides, which includes purchasing a different packages or sets of KMs for a discounted price.

Careem is driving local innovations to turn the region’s most pressing challenges into opportunities. In Egypt, the company launched toktok service to serve Hurghada and North Coast users, cooperated with the preexisting white taxi service (and orange taxi in Hurghada), launched the Careem Water Taxi in collaboration with the Water Taxi company to serve commuters from five ports along the banks of the Nile River. The company also launched a road safety campaign across Egypt in partnership with Total and has trained and hired 50 people with disabilities to work at its regional call centre in Cairo. In Pakistan, Careem launched a market-specific female Captains programme and launched Taxi in Islamabad to support local cabs.

About the Writer:

Mudassir Sheikha is the CEO and Co-Founder of Careem.