Author: Aakash Shah, CYFI Youth Committee Member.

Today, the worldwide focus is on Sustainable Development. In its true sense, the private sector can contribute to promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, inclusive economic progress and sustainable development. There is a strong need for efficient and affordable transportation but, in countries such as India, inefficiency or unavailability of transportation is one of the most acute problems. In order to solve this problem, entrepreneurs are increasingly launching innovative and wide-reaching initiatives. Within this context, a new emphasis is being placed on the role of private enterprises in the pursuit of the post-2015 development agenda.

The UN Global Compact has a clear and multifaceted definition of corporate sustainability: the delivery of long-term value in financial, environmental, social and ethical terms. Enterprises are encouraged to take additional supportive actions through their core business, philanthropy, collective action and public policy advocacy – which is done voluntarily, and not as a trade-off or substitute for the requirement to respect universal principles. Thus, corporate sustainability is effectively rearticulating the concept of responsible business, with an orientation towards sustainable development.

Sustainability in entrepreneurship

A business model which is not just a success in mere terms of profit, but which also contributes to advancing sustainability, is that of the Indian company Taxi For Sure . TaxiForSure is an aggregator of car rentals and taxis in India that works with various taxi operators, enabling them to use technology to ensure that customers have easy access to a safe & reliable taxi ride. They are a team of enthusiastic individuals, who believe that they have the opportunity and responsibility to change the way in which people travel. They take their mission very seriously to make taxi rides hassle free, convenient, reliable and, most importantly, punctual.

In order to do so, all drivers are provided with a device that is installed in their vehicles and that can accurately relay critical data back to the headquarters. This information is then used to match the customer with the most convenient taxi. Tracing back to the foundation of this business startup, it all started on a Sunday afternoon when the organizers had a talk and, as frequent travellers, highlighted the lack of a trusted, comfortable and organized taxi service in many of the major cities in the country. The lack of such a taxi service aggravated poverty among taxi drivers and created inequalities between the groups of society who owned a car, and those who didn't.The founders realized they had a good solution to address this pressing issue. Their initial research indicated that they would not be able to do justice to the idea by only working part-time. This is why they decided to dedicate themselves fully to the project and to put all their energy into the development of TaxiForSure.

Founded in late 2011 – TaxiForSure's first set of customers were reached within companies, through posts of the employees who had already used its service. Later, Facebook ads and radio campaigns widened its reach. Currently, the venture does extensive online and offline marketing campaigns, facilitating over 2,000 bookings per day across two cities: Bangalore and Delhi (NCR). Operators and drivers are in fact the key customers. Since the beginning, there have been some great achievements. For instance, some of the drivers who initially joined with only one taxi now own a fleet of 100 taxis. Today, for those with a small capital who have tied up with TaxiForSure, 90-95% of their business is solely driven by them

The key aspect that differentiates TaxiForSure from the others in the same sector is their approach to the relationship between operators and customers. Since they directly work with operators, it increases the number of taxis available for customers. Operators communicate with each other to ensure that there is a constant supply of taxis in all regions where the company operates. Secondly, their technology costs are much lower than with other companies. On the back end, TaxiForSure works on an online application, which can be downloaded onto any existing smartphone. TaxiForSure also focuses on minimizing idle waiting time for taxi drivers, allowing them to optimize the number of rides they make during their working hours, thus increasing their earnings.

While we see cab aggregators focusing on metro and tier I cities, not many are foraying into smaller cities. The significant growth potential in tier II and tier III cities should not be underestimated. Disposable income is increasing in these cities, and many premium services and hotels are being established - the growth of corporate entities and construction of new airports will only fuel the demand. Public transport is not able to grow at the rate at which the cities are growing. Although radio cabs are still not very popular and are considered as a privilege only for a selected few, they are attempting to ensure that a larger population commutes both comfortably and economically.

The economic benefits of sustainable entrepreneurship

TaxiForSure aspires to expand across India and to create a brand that customers can trust and that offers a unique and seamless experience within the sector. The company is planning to launch its service in 2 more cities and will expand to 15 cities by the end of 2015. This service is not only providing an affordable and effective means of transportation to the public but is also enhancing the economic well-being of the many cab drivers connected to the company. This missing to increase employment opportunities for cab owners and drivers is in line with the Sustainable Developments Goals; namely Goal #8, which focuses on employment, decent work and social protection.

Moreover, they are working on innovative enhancements in technology, to improve customer experience. In spite of being in the private sector, TaxiForSure is not just working for their own economic progress, but also for taxi drivers across various cities in India, allowing them to benefit from a more sustainable business model for transportation. For its economic efficiency, and provision of welfare for thousands of taxi owners and drivers, TaxiForSure is a good example of a sustainable and successful business startup. There is a lot that other private companies can adapt from this thriving and sustainable initiative built on the principles of economic inclusion, sustainable development and societal empowerment. CYFI strongly encourages other companies to follow this example and also adapt their business models to take into account society’s needs and advance the SDGs.

Aakash is a 19 year-old CYFI Youth Committee member and Youth Representative from India. He is keen on issues related to money saving and hence works to encourage youth to save in order to have a better future. Aakash has recently been appointed Global Ambassador for the Post-2015 Agenda, YOURS and has been awarded the prestigious UN My World Innovations Award.

This blog is the seventh in a series of summer blog articles related to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and are authored by youth interns at Child & Youth Finance International. Join the discussion on social media by following @ChildFinance and using the hashtag #cyfiyouth.