Local Ride-Hailing Startups Thrive in the Towns that Uber Forgot

Uber and Didi spent billions in Latin America. Now homegrown contenders are flourishing in the places they ignored.

Back in 2015, Alécio Cavalcante visited São Paulo, Latin America’s largest megalopolis, and used Uber for the first time. The now 32-year-old from Parnaíba, in the state of Piauí, was hooked.

“Being able to track the car plus the premium service, with well-dressed drivers, candy, water … I thought, This technology is going to help a lot of people,” he told Rest of World. But Uber never made it to his native beach community. So he decided to create his own version, Ubiz Car, a ride-hailing app specialized in small and medium-sized towns.

Launched in 2018, Ubiz Car currently provides ride-hailing services in 24 Brazilian cities, works with 5,200 drivers, and expects a revenue of $2.2 million reais ($427,700) in 2022. It is one of dozens of local ride-hailing apps that have cropped up across Brazil and Latin America more broadly over the past few years.

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