|100+ cities in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia|
Careem is a Dubai-based super app with operations in over 100 cities, covering 12 countries across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia regions. The company, which was valued at over US$2 billion in 2018, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber after being acquired for $3.1 billion in January 2020. Careem expanded into the food delivery business with Careem Now in November 2018 and launched a digital payment platform, Careem Pay in April 2022.
Careem was founded by Mudassir Sheikha, an American of Pakistani origin and Magnus Olsson of Sweden, who had both worked as management consultants at McKinsey & Company. It started operating in July 2012 as a website-based service for corporate car bookings, and evolved to become a ridesharing company with car hire for everyday use.
In June 2017, Careem launched operations in Palestine as part of a commitment to create one million jobs in the MENA region by the end of 2018. In January 2018, they became the first ride-hailing service to launch in Baghdad. The company also has locations in Najaf and Erbil, Kurdistan Region.
It was announced in February 2018, that Careem has acquired RoundMenu, a restaurant listing and food ordering platform that operates across the Arab world. In August 2018, Careem said they would be launching bus services, starting with cities in Egypt in December of the same year. The service was discontinued in early 2020.
On 27 February 2020, Careem announced that it will soon be launching Careem Pay, a digital wallet to replace cash payments.
In November 2015, Careem announced a Series C round investment of US$60 million led by The Abraaj Group. In October 2016, the company reached an agreement with regulators in Dubai whereby customers are able to book all taxicabs and limousines operating in Dubai via the Careem mobile app. In December 2016, the company raised US$350 million in a Series D round, based on a US$1 billion valuation for the company. Saudi Telecom in this funding round invested in a 10% stake in Careem. In October 2018, the company secured US$200 million funding from its existing investors.
On 26 March 2019, Uber agreed to acquire the company for US$3.1 billion, including US$1.4 billion in cash and US$1.7 billion in convertible notes, making Careem the first unicorn startup company in the Middle East outside of Israel.
In 2018, Careem announced it was launching a food delivery service app called Careem Now, delivering food and pharmaceuticals, initially in Dubai and Jeddah. In 2019, the service expanded into Riyadh and Amman, and announced it was also launching in Pakistan. On 21 April 2020, the service expanded its Dubai service into delivering groceries and other essential products.
In Pakistan, Careem employs women drivers. Women are also employed as drivers in Egypt and Jordan. In Saudi Arabia, women make up 80% of the company's customers. Careem is planning to have a female workforce of 20,000 by the year 2020. In Saudi Arabia, Careem and Uber have started recruiting women, as part of the Saudi Women to drive movement. Women were legally allowed to start driving on 24 June 2018, and Uber and Careem women drivers were able to start working on the same day.
Taxi protests in Egypt
Uber and Careem faced heavy criticism in Egypt at the beginning of 2016 by local taxi drivers for operating without official taxi licenses. Taxi drivers organized several protests and sit-ins demanding that the Egyptian government intervene to halt the activities of the TNCs. A committee was organized by the Egyptian government to assess the complaints of the protesting taxi drivers and standardize taxi services in Egypt. They ruled in favor of the TNCs, ensuring that they can operate legally and provided legal protection for the TNC drivers who had been facing attacks by both state police and angry taxi drivers.
In January, 2018, Careem discovered data on more than 14 million riders and 558,800 drivers were breached. The company waited until late April, 2018, to disclose this breach because they "wanted to make sure we had the most accurate information before notifying people". According to investigations conducted by the company, there was no initial evidence of fraud or misuse.
Careem has been a supporter of Cricket for a Cause for the past two years and has supported the league's efforts to raise funds for children in developing nations. Moreover, in Pakistan, Careem and Robin Hood Army took the initiative to feed more than 10,000 people across the nation.
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