Providing an ethical alternative to existing food delivery apps, Wings platform co-op was formed to give delivery riders fair pay and conditions.
Launched in the Finsbury Park area of London in July 2021, the Wings app is the only food delivery platform that pays riders a guaranteed London Living Wage. It’s also the only platform with 100% zero-carbon vehicles. Wings riders are ensured job security, sick pay and benefits. And the co-op is committed to prioritising local, independent businesses over big chains.
Wings was formed after a collective of delivery riders and organisers joined forces with a South London charity during the first Covid-19 lockdown to deliver free food parcels to over 800 households.
“The pandemic highlighted the crucial role of delivery riders, who put themselves at risk to keep the nation going through lockdown. The least they deserve is fair pay and conditions,” says Wings co-founder – and former Deliveroo rider – Rich Mason.
Launched with the help of grant funding from Islington Council, Wings was created in response to the ‘gig economy’ in which riders’ earnings are unpredictable and often below the minimum wage.
“I want every rider currently getting a bad deal in the gig economy to eventually have the option of a proper, dignified job with decent pay,” says Rich. “If we can achieve this, in such a competitive and ruthless sector, I hope that we can send a message that exploitative tech companies can be successfully challenged.”
Wings was also supported by the UnFound Accelerator – a 10 week business development programme for fledgling start-up businesses that use mobile apps or online platforms to provide services and solutions.
Delivered by Co-operatives UK and Stir to Action, supported by The Co-operative Bank, the UnFound Accelerator draws on an extensive network of experts to help platform co-ops plan their businesses and develop their products, strategy, branding and marketing.
The programme culminated in an event where the teams pitched for a share of a £10,000 prize fund provided by The Co-operative Bank. Wings won £2,013 at their pitching event to support them in achieving their mission.
“We’re here, first and foremost, to improve the working lives of riders,” says Rich. “Being owned and run by the riders is essential to this mission. Keeping the strategic direction of the business in their hands ensures that we stay true to that.
“For the riders, this is about taking back power. For customers, we’re offering the best of all worlds – a way to enjoy their favourite food with none of the guilt.
“Being a co-operative also brings into focus how we make this ‘good work’ beyond just pay. We’re working towards a culture where riders can upskill within the company, have their voice heard and nurture a sense of empowerment and leadership.”