This Bengaluru-Based Startup Helps Cab Drivers With Right Kind Of Financial Advice


Let’s go back a few years back to a time when online cab aggregators like that of Ola and Uber had disrupted the Indian tax-booking market in the top-tier cities. The future seemed rosy and everyone, from customers to drivers were happy.

Yamuna Sastry, Founder, Cab Dost

Customers were charged moderate prices with the added advantage of booking a cab at any time of the day. Taxi drivers, too, saw their incomes rising with the companies like Ola and Uber offering them lucrative incentives.

But, sadly, there is an end to every good story.The promised incentives had reduced drastically, leading to a pan-India strike earlier this month.

No amount of government regulation has not been able to come to the aid of the drivers, who have therefore been left at the mercy of the ever-increasing informal economy.

It is at this juncture that startups like Cab Dost have evolved to help better the conditions of the cab drivers.

About Cab Dost

The company was founded in 2015 by Yamuna Sastry.This startup, which is more of a social enterprise, seeks to educate and assist cab drivers in filing their income tax returns, linking their Aadhaar details to their PAN card and other compliance related requirements.


Cab Dost, literally meaning ‘friend to the cabbies’ also gives the drivers necessary guidance on matters pertaining to banking, saving schemes and insurance.

It was way back in 2011, when Sastry was still working in KPMG, that she wanted to help the taxi drivers. Speaking to Better India, she said,

“Many traditional cab drivers did not have PAN cards and bank accounts and were at the mercy of pawnbrokers while pledging cheques for immediate finance requirement. In my personal capacity, I helped some of them acquire the necessary documents.”

Hardly anything had changed when Uber and Ola became the craze in the metro cities.

“App aggregators treat drivers as partners/independent contractors who are lured with incentives,”

Sastry explained.

More importantly, the companies do not provide the taxi drivers with any financial assistance to ensure that they file their returns in time, even though many fall outside the exemption bracket.
Taxi drivers operating out of airports, drivers working for major corporate houses, ferrying employees from the office to their homes face the same problem.

Dost Cab works to bring about financial inclusion of the drivers.

How does the startup work?

“We started after meeting more than 3000 drivers in person. We distributed flyers and started creating awareness in Bangalore. In 2016, it conducted a three-day Tax e-Mela on Radio City 91.1 and collected documents of 180 drivers through WhatsApp and filed their returns for free. Thus far, we have educated more than 12000 drivers and assisted 7000 drivers to file returns and helped them get a total refund of TDS of Rs 1.2 crore,”

claimed Sastry.

A full-fledged for-profit startup, Cab Dost charges drivers a minimal filing fee of Rs 500 to make itself a financially scalable model to reach out to many more drivers.The firm charges additional costs for audited financial statements from drivers who have applied for loans.

It also educates drivers about the importance of savings for tax exemptions like life insurance, mutual funds, medical insurance, and other government saving schemes among other financial safety net tools. It warns them of risky ventures like that of chit funds.

Sastry pointed out that one of the major reasons for the recent strike of the drivers was because they were failing to repay their loans. While, the primary reason is that their incomes are falling drastically with frequent changes in the incentive structure and opaque pricing, but, Sastry argued that better financial advice would come handy for the drivers.

Cab Dost also runs a Financial Literacy Program that seeks to educate people on banking, net banking, CIBIL, NPA, BHIM, and others.

Cab Dost has also reached out to Uber and Ola where they have set up exclusive help desks where they give year-round advice to the drivers about maintaining a clean financial record.

The firm has worked in partnership with the CSR team of the Bangalore International Airport for the past two years. It hosted the first ever financial inclusion drive in the country for 2800 cab drivers, including filing IT returns and offering free facilities for free linking of PAN with Aadhaar card.

“This year more than 1500 drivers registered for free ITR filing campaign,”

said, Sastry.

It is important for anyone to clear their tax returns or else it might prove to be a major hindrance while seeking out loans.

The problem is graver when it comes to the drivers who hail mostly from the suburban or rural areas and their names are spelled differently in each identity proofs. Shafeeque T, co-founder Cab Dost said that the startup has helped many drivers in this aspect.

Sastry maintained that they have a strict data confidentiality policy and protecting the sensitive data of their clients is of paramount importance to them.

Cab Dost operates on marginal return with most of its revenue being reinvested into free IT-filing campaigns, spreading awareness on financial literacy for both taxi drivers and their spouses, and organising career counseling sessions for taxi driver’s children post class X and XII.

Future plans

Cab Dost has started operations in Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata. Last month, the startup tied up with RGIA-GMR Airport, Hyderabad, for a free PAN-Aadhaar linking campaign.

“We want to take this forward to India’s top 10 cities, work with airports and corporations bringing greater financial dignity to this community,”

concluded Sastry.

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