Daily Markup #763: How offering free food and cleaning crabs led to Grab becoming a life-changing superapp for Southeast Asians

Credit: TIME

Earnest, Earnings, Equality

  • From offering free food to taxi drivers to pitch the idea of a ride-hailing service to cleaning live crabs during a pivot to food delivery, Co-founder & CEO Anthony Tan of 500-backed superapp Grab has done it all for the company’s growth, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
  • The company scored Southeast Asia’s biggest Nasdaq IPO in 2021, valued at around US$40B. Today, the platform offers more than just transportation and delivery — people across Southeast Asia use the app for insurance, travel bookings, financial services, and more.
  • Ultimately, Anthony wants to make Grab a “triple bottom line” company by bringing more small businesses into the digital economy, so he can boost earnings while fostering equality.
  • “There are many ways you can build social impact and create financial impact — they’re not mutually exclusive,” he explained. “If you don’t build a society that’s stable, and you don’t uplift the bottom, it becomes all of our problems.”
  • Grab’s focus on being hyper-local contributed to the company’s success. In Cambodia, it offers tuk-tuks, while in Indonesia, users ride pillion on motorcycle taxis. And in 2022, Grab together with Singtel launched one of Singapore’s first digital banks, which offers daily interest rates and instant approvals for small loans.
  • To truly understand the positive impact Grab has had on the lives of Southeast Asians, just ask fruit stall owner Suparno. The pandemic slashed his business by 70%, and he became the first vendor in his area to join GrabMart. 
  • Suparno sold his produce via the app, and using its data-crunching service to bundle in-demand items together, trade quickly recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Today, he plans to open his third stall.
  • What’s more, he no longer has to carry around large wads of cash or wait in long queues at the bank. Sales on GrabMart go into his GrabPay account, so he doesn’t have to worry about cash flow. “It helps a lot because mornings are my busiest time,” Suparno shared.
  • Read the full story on TIME.


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