Uber has been operating in Bangladesh for over two years. During this time, we have heard many stories of how Uber has positively impacted the lives of its driver-partner community. And sometimes, we come across stories that touch our hearts, such as that of Shahanaj Akter.
Shahanaj Akter is an UberMOTO driver who has recently come into the limelight for her courage and dedication towards her work. Using Uber as her source of income, Shahanaj takes care of her family consisting of her two daughters. Her aim is to ensure that her daughters become independent and empowered like herself.
Uber always wants to enrich the lives of its driver-partners. In addition to the earning opportunity, Uber aims to help the driver-partner in ways that will benefit them in the long term. As a step towards that goal, Uber is launching the Uber GenerationNext Initiative – a program whereby Uber will arrange various opportunities and scholarships for the immediate family of selected Uber driver-partners.
As the first beneficiary of the This GenerationNext Initiative, Uber is honoured to arrange scholarships for both the daughters of Shahanaj Akter for at least one year. Uber graciously recognises the partnership of the two schools in this journey.
We recently invited Shahanaj Akter and her daughters for a tour of our office and in the process, know the person a little better who inspired so many. The discussion made us reiterate our responsibility to the driver-partners community as we absorbed her dreams of a better life for her children. Here is a sneak peak of the lively chat, for your interest, in the own words of Shahanaj.
Briefly tell us about yourself:
I was born and raised in a poverty-ridden family in Dhaka. Although married, I’m separated now. I have two daughters, but their estranged father no longer provides for them. My daughters study in the ninth grade and first grade respectively. My sole aim in life is to ensure that my daughters are educated and empowered, so that they don’t have to face the same hardships as I did. With that in mind, I bought a motorcycle and registered to drive with Uber.
How has your journey with Uber been so far?
Well, Uber gives me the freedom to select my own work-hours. Everyday, I drop off my daughters to school, take care of my household chores and then I set off to take Uber trips. Therefore, I get to dedicate ample time for my personal life. Besides, my earning from Uber is good enough for me to sustain my family as well as pay off my debts.
What issues do you face being a female ride-sharing driver?
I used to face issues previously. Riders would sometimes cancel when they saw that I am a female driver. But since I joined Uber, this does not happen. In fact, Uber riders are very friendly, and everyone has encouraged me to move forward.
Tell us a little about the incident when your bike was stolen:
My bike was stolen recently by someone who had lured me by promises of a stable part-time income. When my bike was stolen, many people extended a helping hand. While I am thankful to them, I am determined not to take any financial help from anybody. Rather, I want to be able to provide for my own family with the money I earn with my own hard work. Thankfully, with the help of the police, journalists, Uber officials and the kind people on the internet, I have gotten my bike back.
What do you love the most about Uber?
At Uber, I feel valued and appreciated. Not just my riders, but the Uber officials also respect and encourage me. Most importantly, Uber takes care of its loyal driver-partners. Recently, Uber authority informed me that Uber is going to support the education of both my daughters for an entire year. In fact, I am the first beneficiary of Uber’s new driver welfare program, Uber GenerationNext. I am quite pleasantly surprised by this kind gesture by Uber.
How will this small help you aid you in the long run?
It definitely will. Uber officials have already arranged understandings with Mirpur Bangla Higher Secondary School and Urban Preparatory School where my daughters study. So instead of paying for their tuition fees, I will now get to save up the money for the future of my daughters, while my daughters receive proper education.
I believe this will propel my daughters to become independent and self-sustaining in the long run. Eventually, the quality of my children’s lives will improve. I am eternally grateful to Uber for this gesture.
There is only one Shahanaj Akter, but there are many like her and they rely on Uber to make their dreams come true. As their partner, Uber hopes to make some contribution to improve the quality of life of other driver-partners and their children, not only monetarily but in more ways. The impact we can create through our initiatives depends on the variety and complexity of each project but the idea will always be to help our driver-partners foster a bright next generation. All we have to remember that it’s just the beginning!