Don’t be surprised if your Ola app asks you for Re 1 more when you book a ride next time. It is part of the Bengaluru-based cab-hailing company’s new campaign to crowdsource funds from its customers to support cancer care in India where awareness of the disease is still relatively low.

Ola has tied up with Tata Trusts’ Alamelu Charitable Foundation for what it calls the ‘My Ride, My Cause’ initiative, one of many philanthropic activities launched by the country’s private companies to boost their image. Customers who agree to pay that extra Re 1 a ride will be able to track their total contribution at any time and are free to opt out at any point.

The contributions will be used to make cancer care affordable and available in rural areas and to help in diagnosis and treatment in a country where around 2.5 million people are living with the disease.

“Nationwide early cancer detection and access to quality care is a dire need. Tata Trusts is playing a facilitating role to establish infrastructure, develop protocols and trained personnel in partnership with multiple state governments, NGOs, hospitals, and clinicians across the country. However, this task requires collaboration between multiple stakeholders,” says R. Venkataramanan, managing trustee, Tata Trusts.

Ola believes the partnership will raise a substantial sum because of the millions of rides it facilitates every day and its huge network of customers across the country.

“As a homegrown and leading mobility platform, Ola is committed to enabling holistic well-being and prosperity of the country. This initiative reiterates our commitment as it will unify millions of Ola customers to mobilise funds and ensure that aid reaches where it is needed the most in our country,” says Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of Ola. “I encourage all our customers and employees to do their bit and join the fight against cancer.”

This move comes after Ola's arch rival, Uber, partnered with Delhi Police’s women’s safety app called Himmat. Uber is India’s largest overseas market and it has plans to expand operations to take on homegrown Ola.

Uber and Ola have a common investor, SoftBank, leading to rumours of a possible merger in India.

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