As part of his Middle East tour, Uber Chief Advisor and member of the Board of Directors David Plouffe made a stop at the American University in Cairo’s Venture Lab to talk to Access to Knowledge for Development’s Founding Director Prof. Nagla Rizk on March 7. Largely considered the ‘architect’ of President Obama’s two presidential campaigns, Plouffe discussed the sharing economy and the future of work, entrepreneurship and markets.
Plouffe’s visit comes as both the San Francisco-based Uber and the Dubai-based Careem come under fire from taxi drivers, who have staged multiple protests to demand that the car service companies be shuttered in Egypt. Commenting on the crisis, Plouffe explained that Uber is currently in negotiations to resolve the situation, and explained that the introduction of car services like Uber has encouraged some countries change or modify outdated laws regulating the taxicab industry.
Notably, he explained that car service and ridesharing apps have led to the introduction of laws regulating in the ridesharing industry, which was previously not governed by any legislation.
“In today’s economy, everyone can be an entrepreneur,” said Plouffe of the sharing economy, noting that ridesharing and car service apps have enabled people to make money on demand. “The principle is that, whenever people want to make money, they switch on their phone,” he added.
As the company’s fastest growing market in the Middle East and Africa, Uber Cairo has created work opportunities for 10,000 drivers to date – 40% of whom where unemployed before joining Uber – with the average driver doing 32 hours per week.
Plouffe’s visit coincided with the company signing the Uber Economic Empowerment Program, which includes a MoU with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, Education for Employment Egypt (EFE|Egypt) and BPE Partners’ Arabiya for Investments and its subsidiaries. The program will provide resources, education and training to marginal communities and individuals from a low socio-economic background, enabling them to become Uber partner-drivers, entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing them with financial solutions to obtain vehicles that meet Uber’s standards.