BYKEA, one of Pakistan’s largest and pioneering networks of motorbikes for transport, logistics & payments announced steps to facilitate citizens as urban Pakistan went into a lock down amid COVID-19 fears.
30,000 monthly active drivers working as gig workers were forced to stay home at the onset, as the city administrations banned all on-demand companies and ordered all retail markets including restaurant takeaways to shut their operations down.
During the spread of COVID-19 in China in the month of Feburary, BYKEA had begun distributing face masks to all of its driver partners as well as the rest of the employees. Hand sanitizer dispensers were placed at all exits and outside franchise operations.
By early March, amidst the closure of all schools and government office, the company began distributing hand sanitizers directly from the manufacturers to the citizens via its fleet. In doing so, the company delivered a few thousand hand sanitizer orders to the public.
By the second week of March, the company had started to mandate employees on work from home drills, leveraging collaborative tools like Slack, Google Docs, Sheets and Hangouts. By the beginning of week two, the entire office staff began working from home.
Strict guidance was shared with the fleet on standard operating procedures around hygiene, mandatory face masks, gloves and social distancing. As the lockdown prevailed towards the end of March, BYKEA announced a relief fund of 7 million Pakistani Rupees and commenced disbursement through mobile money channels to its top performers whose daily earnings were most impacted.
Simultaneously, BYKEA disbursed payroll for March a week in advance, gave an internet allowance to the staff working from home and assured the employees that the health care costs of the employees and their family members in the event of protracting COVID-19 would be completely covered by BYKEA.
With the complete lockdown, the state started making plans around distributing food rations to the poverty stricken segments. But as the time progressed, and BYKEA realized that the State was equipped quite sparsely to distribute ration in a systematic way, the company lobbied to offer its fleet for the delivery of ration to the deserving.
The first to act on this was the city administration in Karachi, which handed over food rations in the thousands to BYKEA for distribution among the deserving individuals and families with documented national identities.
BYKEA got its crowd sourced call center team in action which started calling recipients, soliciting exact GPS locations for their homes and dispatching the job automatically onto the BYKEA driver partner app.
Drivers started showing up at designated warehouses, picking sacks of ration, tying them to their motorbikes and heading into communities to deliver at the doorsteps of the poverty stricken segments.
At delivery, the driver would take a photo of the national ID of the recipient and the delivery GPS. The said photos were then shared with the city administration officials for reconciliation.
Seeing this as a successful mode of delivering the marginalized segments, NGOs jumped to offer their ration loads to BYKEA as well. NGOs reportedly struggled to get the ration delivered to the destinations due to the challenges posed by the lock down.
BYKEA’s investors showed immense trust in the business and doubled down on their commitment to fund the business despite the companies incurring losses during the lock down. They continued to encourage the employees to think long term and build products that would be relevant in the next quarter in the post COVID-19 world.
BYKEA’s engineering team also utilized this lock down to work on engineering solutions around distribution capabilities for small businesses leveraging BYKEA’s network and technology.