Ride-hailing firm Uber is offering a hundred UK drivers and couriers grants of up to £10,000 to kick-start new business ventures as part of a package of support to help small firms through the pandemic.
The company has teamed up with small business network Enterprise Nation for the initiative and will offer winning drivers a place on a 10-week training programme and grants for start-up ideas.
All those who take part in the programme, run by Enterprise Nation, will receive a grant of £2,000 – but there are awards of £5,000, £7,500 and £10,000 up for grabs for the top three winning ideas on graduation day.
The scheme – which is fully funded by Uber – opened for applications on Thursday and within the first half an hour, Uber said it received more than 150 applications.
Uber Eats is also offering access to an online training course for tens of thousands of small food businesses already available on the delivery service to help them boost sales, branding and to grow.
And eight aspiring food entrepreneurs will have the chance to take part in a six-week, educational Food Fellowship programme in partnership with delivery-only chain Karma Kitchens in north-west London, overseen by food expert and start-up trainer, Vhari Russell.
The fledgling food businesses will also be given a year’s free access to commercial kitchen space at Karma Kitchen in north-west London.
Jamie Heywood, Uber’s northern and Eastern Europe regional manager, said it was “more important than ever to invest in British entrepreneurship” as the country battles amid the coronavirus crisis.
“We know that many drivers and couriers who use the Uber app to earn have aspirations beyond Uber and we want to help support them achieve their goals,” he added.
Applications for the programmes run from November 26 to December 11.
Uber said drivers and couriers must have had a valid account with Uber or Uber Eats for at least six months, plus a rating of at least 4.8 or 85%.
All participants in the initiatives will be given 12 months’ free access to Enterprise Nation.
Small business minister Paul Scully said: “Initiatives like this which support people running small businesses to branch out and innovate are more important than ever at a time when many are struggling with the impacts of Covid-19.
“We want to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business, and backing business owners, creators and doers regardless of their background is essential to that goal.”
Uber has more than 60,000 licenced private hire drivers across the UK, while Uber Eats delivers for more than 20,000 restaurants across 120 towns and cities.