India’s gig economy goes off the rails as COVID-19 crisis deepens

Table setting at Zomato Summit. Photo: Zomato

The turmoil caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 is expected to derail India’s gig economy, which was projected to achieve a market size of $455 billion by 2023 by industry group Assocham.

Led by online food delivery firms Zomato and Swiggy, ride-hailing companies Uber and Ola, online homestay brand Airbnb, hospitality chain Oyo and a host of other shared economy companies, the sector is bracing itself for unforeseen challenges as lives are unlikely to return to normal even after the completion of the 21-day lockdown, which could also be extended.

In the short term, the companies are likely to suffer from weak consumer demand, supply-chain disruptions and shortage of manpower, leading to poor growth rates.

The immediate impact of the Covid-19 scare is likely to happen in the gig economy with people remaining apprehensive of any physical contact and thus refraining from availing most such services such as ordering cabs and food to grooming services at home and staying in shared spaces.

According to Statista, a data portal, revenue in the ride-hailing segment in India was expected to post a compounded annual growth rate of 13.5% from 2020 till 2023, achieving a market volume of $54.09 billion by 2023. With the mobility industry coming to a grinding halt due to the pandemic, it will be a tall task to achieve those numbers.

Both Ola and Uber have suspended operations in most large cities to comply with government restrictions during the lockdown. Japan’s SoftBank-backed Ola, however, said that it may start limited services to support essential services in some cities as part of the national effort to curb the contagion.

“Their business must be down by almost 80%-90% although there are no numbers officially available,” said an analyst at a management consultant, declining to be named.

 

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.