Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Driving change

Published in Jul-Aug 2017
How ride-hailing apps are creating employment and building up the public transportation system.

The entry in Pakistan of ride-hailing services, Careem and Uber, have significantly impacted the public transport sector and created employment for thousands of people. Furthering that paradigm, Careem recently launched ‘Become a Careem Captain’; a 360-degree campaign aimed at encouraging people to join Careem as part or full-time drivers.

There are two TVCs in the campaign and both have a light, humorous tone, set in a casual, conversational style. The first is about a young couple – the husband brings home extra income and is confronted by a suspicious wife who thinks he is involved in an extramarital relationship with a “maaldar aurat” (wealthy woman). The husband retorts that it is not a woman; it is Careem. The second ad is about an apprehensive father who thinks his young son must be dealing drugs as this can be the only explanation why he is earning so much. Here again, it’s not drugs, it’s Careem.

According to Junaid Iqbal, MD, Careem Pakistan, “both TVCs have one thing in common and that is to break the taboo associated with doing odd jobs, especially being a driver. We make it a point to use the word ‘captain’ and not driver, as captain evokes a sense of being in charge – which they are – of their financial independence and self-improvement.”


"We make it a point to use the word ‘captain’ and not driver, as captain evokes a sense of being in charge – which they are – of their financial independence and self-improvement.”

Junaid Iqbal, CEO, Careem


Iqbal says that although Careem is open to all ages, the TVCs focus on young people as they constitute the major portion of their customer base. To qualify as a Careem captain, applicants must have a valid driving license and ID card. They must also pass Careem’s driving test and submit the necessary paperwork for a background check. Careem has appointed Research and Collection Services (RCS) – a subsidiary of the PathFinder Group – to conduct background checks. The process takes three to four days, after which the captains can start driving.

Careem cars are divided into three categories – Careem Go, Go+ and Business (Careem Tezz are the auto rickshaws) and each category has specified car models. Each car is inspected by CarSure (a car inspection service and subsidiary of PakWheels) which uses various tech devices to check the engine, suspension, breaks, steering control, tyres, lighting and the exterior and interior among other quality parameters. A car is inducted only when it has CarSure’s certificate of approval.

On an average, if they drive six hours a day, 30 days a month, captains driving Go cars can earn up to Rs 45,000 per month; Go+ captains up to Rs 58,000 and Business captains approximately Rs 72,000. They also earn bonuses based on their customer ratings and the total trips made per day.

In this respect, Iqbal points out that: “this is a sizable amount, whether it’s treated as a supplementary income, or a regular monthly salary.” This is why, in his opinion, Careem’s drivers come from a wide spectrum, ranging from the lower-middle, middle and even upper-middle SECs – including professionals in between jobs and well-off retirees who want to be more financially independent. In his opinion, in Pakistan, where unemployment, especially among the young is high, job creation is fundamental for the social welfare and prosperity of the country.


On an average, if they drive six hours a day, 30 days a month, captains driving Go cars can earn up to Rs 45,000 per month; Go+ captains up to Rs 58,000 and Business captains approximately Rs 72,000.


Although reluctant to give the precise number of drivers associated with Careem, he says, “our target is that by December 31, 2018, we will have created one million employment opportunities, and I can confidently say that we are on track.” He further adds that in the past 18 months, Careem has created more jobs than any large bank or industrial group.

Apart from creating employment, Careem aims to build up the public transportation system in Pakistan. Iqbal says that in Karachi there are only 1,900 buses for a population of 27 million; in Lahore the situation is slightly better while in the rest of the country it is worse.

“Ride-hailing services have allowed the private sector to contribute to the public sector and Careem has created close to 15,000 entrepreneurs and this number continues to grow.”

As a disruptive tech company, Careem has faced a number of challenges. The foremost are Government laws and regulations. In January, the Punjab Provincial Transport Authority announced that both Careem and Uber were operating outside regulatory boundaries and hinted at a ban. Careem’s response was to clarify that the company, although significantly impacting transportation, is in effect a tech and not a transport company.

Iqbal sums up Careem’s position by saying that “a new kind of business requires new laws, and we are working with the Government to help regulate this.”


Apart from creating employment, Careem aims to build up the public transportation system in Pakistan. Iqbal says that in Karachi there are only 1,900 buses for a population of 27 million; in Lahore the situation is slightly better while in the rest of the country it is worse.


Another challenge is the absence of mapping solutions that provide precise housing addresses and not just street-level mapping. Then there is the issue of attracting women captains; although almost 70% of their customers are women, the company only has 12 women captains so far. In this regard, Careem plans to launch a campaign aimed at attracting women captains.

As for the response to the ‘Become a Careem Captain’ campaign, Iqbal says it has been phenomenal and there has been a 9100% increase in the number of leads generated.

He concludes: “we aim to drive revolutionary changes in the employment and transport sectors of Pakistan, and this campaign is just one of the many steps to enable that.”