“Unfortunately, Uber is currently not available in your area.”
Residents of Brasilândia, a 260,000-strong neighborhood in the north zone of São Paulo, are used to seeing this message. With levels of violence above the city’s average, as well as an abundance of hills, narrow streets, and poor public lighting, Uber is useless in Brasilândia. Drivers that take fares to the neighborhood often drop their passengers off before entering Brasilândia, fearing that they will become targets for carjackings or robberies.
Excluded from the service that has redefined how people get around in São Paulo, in 2017 the residents of Brasilândia created their own ridesharing service, originally called Ubra (an acronym of United People of Brasilândia but it was later changed to Jaubra to avoid copyright lawsuits from Uber itself).
Jaubra started off with only six drivers, all of them residing in Brasilândia, and around 40 customers. Their rates are fairly similar to Uber’s (BRL 2/km against BRL 1.80/km) and passengers would call their rides via WhatsApp Messenger. One year later, the company has 50 drivers and over 13,200 customers – receiving about 5,000 requests per month. The service has not yet reached its break-even point, but it has a solid business plan and is set to expand to other areas on the outskirts of São Paulo.