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Grabbing New Opportunities For Sustainability: Behind our 2021 ESG report

a group of people standing in a room

Providing opportunities for sustainable and inclusive growth among our diverse communities, from employees to driver- and merchant-partners, is at the heart of Grab’s operations as

Southeast Asia’s leading superapp. We aim to double the number of marginalised individuals earning income on our platform by 2025; reach 40 per cent female leadership by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. These goals were unveiled in our 2021 Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) report that was released in May. 

Our yearly ESG report documents our sustainability approaches and progress across the three pillars of ESG, which covers environmental protection, social impact contribution and responsible business practices. It also tracks our impact in these areas.   

Spotlight on Sustainability 

In tandem with robust growth in the digital economy, we also want our communities to reap the benefits of working towards a sustainable future.By embracing a Triple Bottom Line, we believe that what’s good for society can make business sense. Besides innovating and funding long-term solutions to reduce our carbon footprint, we want to create a meaningful impact on society by helping our partners gain digital skills and uplift their socioeconomic standing.

In 2021, we empowered more than 680,000 small-scale merchant-partners – a 13% year-on-year increase. Our driver- and merchant-partners earned US$8.9 billion through the platform – a 24% increase from 2020. Despite a 28% increase in deliveries in the past year, we still saw an improvement in overall road safety (in terms of accidents per million kilometres) compared to 2020. To curb the spread of COVID-19, US$20 million from the GrabForGood fund went towards funding vaccinations for our community. 

The Grabbers Behind The ESG Report

We chat with 4 Grabbers who had a hand in putting together the 2021 ESG report and get them to share their contributions towards helping Grab meet its ESG goals. We also discover how these experiences have injected positivity and meaning into their work lives, allowing them to grab life with both hands. 

One of them is Melissa Wang, Manager, Regional Sustainability, who is based in Singapore. She is part of the team that strategises and plans Grab’s ESG journey and ensures that it meets corporate responsibility standards. She also builds processes to enable proper governance oversight and generate awareness of ESG among fellow Grabbers. 

“I love how ESG at Grab is holistic with top-down direction and bottom-up support,” she says. “ESG is so ingrained in the company’s culture and mission that the end-goals are typically aligned with our sustainability agenda.”

An ESG initiative that impressed her was our safety measures for two-wheel delivery-partners. With an increase in deliveries last year, the team stepped up on precautionary measures such as working with delivery-partners to redesign the delivery gear, adding reflective prints and tags to increase their visibility on the road, as well as providing defensive driving training to equip drivers with skills like riding with an extra load. It was an opportunity for the business to improve the safety and in turn the lives of our delivery-partners.

Our delivery-partners being introduced to the new features of the delivery gear to step up on precautionary measures (photo taken pre-covid)

On working on our ESG report, she shares: “As ESG is very cross-functional, I enjoyed working with various teams to put the report together. Grabbers debate respectfully but also work collaboratively and I am confident that this will accelerate our ESG journey.”

Our delivery-partners with the newly designed delivery gear (photo taken pre-covid)

Add Meaning to Data

Supporting the findings in the ESG report is data, which is the expertise of Data Scientist (Analytics), Anugrah Pranata, who is based in Indonesia. He collects data across our verticals and services and consolidates the data and information with the help of sustainability and country teams. He says: “As a technology company, data and analytics are very important at Grab, which drives stakeholders to move forward together with relevant information and insights. This helps to improve our services and platform, and determine future strategies to achieve our goals of creating economic and social empowerment.”

For Anugrah, some findings in the ESG report that stood out include how our driver- and merchant-partner earnings have been on the rise in recent years, and the increase in training programmes for partners to hone their entrepreneurial skills. Besides interacting with various verticals, functional and country teams  while working on the report, he also relishes seeing the impact that Grab has made on the lives of people in its community. 

Steering A Greener Drive

Our ESG Report also spotlighted note-worthy projects that have made a positive impact on the environment.

One of them is the GrabWheels initiative in Indonesia, which was initially launched to provide short-term usage of personal mobility devices such as e-scooters. In 2020, we added electric bicycles to our fleet through the Electric Vehicle (EV) rental programme in Indonesia, allowing our partners to rent an EV for deliveries. This also accelerated the scale-up of sustainable transportation across the country, which contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Today, we are the largest EV fleet operator in Indonesia with more than 8,500 electric two-wheelers in our stable. 

Event to build the EV strategic roadmap(from left) 2 Grab driver-partners, Budi Karya Sumadi (Minister of Communication), Neneng Geonadi (Managing Director, Grab Indonesia)

Mohd Aziruddin Abdullah, Head of GrabWheels Indonesia, recalls some challenges his team had to overcome to implement the EV rental programme. One of them was the then-low market acceptance of EV, which was gradually addressed through educating driver-partners. Another issue was product reliability and infrastructure, given that EV is a nascent product. One key gripe was the lower distance range due to the limitations of battery power, which could disrupt delivery services.

Aziruddin with a Grab e-scooter, launched as part of the Electric Vehicle (EV) rental programme (photo taken pre-covid)

Over the years, the team has built 16 battery swapping stations to make it more convenient for users to charge their EVs on the go. There are also plans to expand our collaboration with energy companies and electric providers to facilitate smoother operations. 

He sums up: “The DNA of GrabWheels is to provide a safe, affordable and accessible mobility solution that supports a smart city and greener lifestyle, not only in Indonesia, but in Southeast Asia.”

Upskilling Merchant-Partners 

Another ESG-related initiative is expanding the use of GrabAcademy, an in-app onboarding platform for our merchant-partners, on top of our driver-partners.

This move enables merchant-partners, especially those running small businesses, to hone their business management skills and build business resilience in today’s gig economy. Areas include branding, digital marketing and financial literacy. The aim is to continue our long stated aim of providing not just opportunities but a better standard of life for our merchant-partners.

An introduction to GrabAcademy

Agnes Leong, Assistant Manager, Regional Marketing (B2B Strategic Projects) is part of the team that produced and launched more than 250 courses in six countries over the past year. These skills and knowledge have enabled merchant-partners to tap into digital markets and manage their finances to grow their business and spur greater economic empowerment.

She affirms: “Hearing from merchant-partners on how they’ve applied their new skills to their business has been very rewarding. We are continuously expanding our collection of training topics to ensure no merchant-partner gets left behind.”

Through focus group discussions, Agnes learnt about the challenges that micro and small businesses face and gained actionable insights on how to better support our merchant-partners through GrabAcademy.

She says: “Grab’s highly collaborative culture enables us to work closer together – this helps us identify solutions to problems faced by our merchant-partners as our teams are always on the same page and share a common goal.”

Grab life with both hands by joining us to be part of a meaningful force for social good and check out the open roles on our careers site now!