Uber Africa: Making Cash and Alternative Payments Work in Kenya through Contextual Leadership
On September 30, 2017, the general manager (GM) of Uber Technologies Inc. (Uber) for sub-Saharan Africa, arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, and paid for his Uber service with cash. This functionality of the Uber app represented a new business model for Uber. The GM had to convince global management of the business case for offering cash payment options in Africa; he did so by conducting experiments and showing data that indicated rider numbers had tripled with adoption of the cash payment option. Uber's driver-partners were concerned about safety when they transported passengers who paid by cash, both because credit card payments offered Uber rider identification and because the driver-partners were concerned about driving around with large amounts of cash. In spite of their concerns, the rationale for introducing a cash payment option was relevant, and it had to be considered carefully in the context of African locations with high crime rates. The GM considered various initiatives for utilizing data from their technology platform to safeguard their riders and drivers. They needed to address local needs in Africa while adhering to global Uber standards. Caren Scheepers is affiliated with University of Pretoria. Anastacia Mamabolo is affiliated with University of Pretoria.