Uber Africa: Making Cash and Alternative Payments Work in Kenya through Contextual Leadership
(6 pages of text)
On September 30, 2017, the general manager (GM) of Uber Technologies Inc. (Uber) for sub-Saharan Africa, arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, and paid for his Uber service with cash. This functionality of the Uber app represented a new business model for Uber. The GM had to convince global management of the business case for offering cash payment options in Africa; he did so by conducting experiments and showing data that indicated rider numbers had tripled with adoption of the cash payment option. Uber’s driver-partners were concerned about safety when they transported passengers who paid by cash, both because credit card payments offered Uber rider identification and because the driver-partners were concerned about driving around with large amounts of cash. In spite of their concerns, the rationale for introducing a cash payment option was relevant, and it had to be considered carefully in the context of African locations with high crime rates. The GM considered various initiatives for utilizing data from their technology platform to safeguard their riders and drivers. They needed to address local needs in Africa while adhering to global Uber standards.
This case is suitable for a graduate-level course on leadership, organizational behaviour, corporate strategy, or international business. It offers information on how to improve Uber’s payment model on the African continent. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Describe contextual leadership in a technological organization.
- Explain how business model innovation affects business growth and competitive advantage.
- Articulate the significance of understanding the local context and introducing products that are relevant to the context.
- Identify entrepreneurial traits needed to lead a young company in a developing market context with underdeveloped financial institutions.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
Kenya; South Africa, Large, 2017
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