Corporate Brands and start-ups stand up for Chennai

With Chennai battered by torrential rains, big and small companies like Vodafone, Uber, Grofers and Zomato rally to help those affected by offering medical, transportation and connectivity services

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha
Updated: Dec 8, 2015 8:18 AM
Corporate Brands  and start-ups  stand  up for Chennai

Chennai witnessed the worst downpour in 100 years with one day's rainfall covering a month's average. A total of 269 people have died, a million people were displaced in India’s auto hub. Apart from local volunteers and India’s Armed Forces, a slew of start-ups and corporates across different verticals like Ola, Paytm, Commonfloor and Oyo Rooms, have come to rescue offering assistance in every way possible from transport, accommodation, medical facilities, food to free recharge, which met with positive response on social media.

Taxi Aggregator


Last month saw taxi aggregator Ola deploying boats along with professional rowers and fishermen to assist people in the waterlogged areas to safety and provided free food and drinking water in specific areas. Also with the entire city facing severe power shutdown, the taxi aggregator took it in its hands to support hundreds of flood-affected Ola auto drivers with food and emergency lantern supplies. 


Ola’s rival, Uber India, announced free rides on two days and offered truck rides to help with carrying necessary supplies such as medicines and food to those who are housed in makeshift shelters.  Uber also went on to launch another initiative of collecting donations for victims of Chennai floods from Bangaluru citizens.


Telecom providers like Vodafone, Airtel and Idea, amongst others are helping out subscribers in the city with several initiatives.


Airtel subscribers in Chennai are getting auto approval for 'talk time' credit of up to Rs. 30 (for prepaid subscribers). The company will also provide credit of 10 minutes for Airtel-to-Airtel calls for prepaid customers with a validity of two days. Free credit of 50MB mobile data for Airtel prepaid customers with a validity of two days is also being offered. For postpaid and fixed-line subscribers, the company is extending time to make payments whose bills are due to be paid immediately.


In a bid to locate missing people in Chennai, Vodafone has launched Trace Your Loved Once program and provided customers with a helpline number to locate their family members. Once the call is made, the customers will receive an SMS within two hours with their members’ last called location.


Idea started crediting 10 local mobile minutes and 50 MB of 2G data in the prepaid accounts of 19.5 lakh customers in the five affected districts of Chennai, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, Thiruvallur and Pondicherry last week.



Real estate portal Commonfloor has started an initiative called We Are With Chennai which comprises two important activities like Need For Shelter and Provide For Shelter.  Anyone in need for shelter or stranded in any part of the city can look up the site for nearby areas / houses. Meanwhile those who are willing to help by providing shelter can share their details on the site via Provide for Shelter.


Zomato offers a meal plan called Meal for Flood Relief’ Delivery Service where people could log in and buy meals for those stranded in submerged areas. For each meal that a person donates through its app, Zomato adds another meal and sends it to most affected areas.


Digital wallet Paytm, is offering free, instant mobile top-ups of 30 rupees to help flood-affected citizens stay connected with family and friends. It has provided a toll-free hotline number in the city for instant top-ups for mobiles. 


Practo, the online medical practice management software, has sent across 8,000 packets of medicines to Chennai with the help of Uber. They even opened up the option for Bangaloreans to contribute necessities like food, blanket and medicines to their office.  It has also put out a locality wise list of verified doctors and hospitals, who are available for help.

Look Up

Hyperlocal messaging app LookUp has collaborated with the volunteer-organisation Bhumi to coordinate donation pick-ups to rehabilitate flood affected. Anyone can take part in the rehabilitation initiative by providing cloths and other relief materials without stepping out of his or her home. All those donating received a complimentary branded T-shirt from Lookup.


Grofers also enables people to send relief material to the flood-affected areas in Chennai through their Web Basket option. There’s a special Chennai relief basket of items that are required on an urgent basis. So the customers can donate by checking out products and the app will deliver them to Chennai.


Hyper-local services startup UrbanClap is offering free pest control treatments for flooded homes.


Microsoft has roped in Skype to ensure all communication channels to-and-from the area are free of charge. Families residing abroad can reach out to their families via Skype as international calls to Tamil Nadu will be free of charge.

Bharat Matrimony

The online matrimony service launched a social initiative called offering a database with verified information of people offering shelter and aid, essential contact info and those in need of aid.


Oyo rooms offered rooms at discounted prices to provide a safe stay. At their 15 hotels in Chennai, rooms were let out at flat INR 799 for single, double and triple sharing. Their city teams were in constant touch with hotel owners, who have been given special instructions to help the affected people.

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