In the process of starting their company, the Somali-born owners of PDX Yellow Cab found themselves widening the entrepreneurial landscape of their field. The driver-owned cooperative launched in 2016, but its existence is the culmination of a four-year journey on the part of many in the Somali community of Portland.
For years, Portland’s taxi regulations created an environment where just under a handful of taxi companies were given licenses to operate. If a driver wanted to drive, they’d have no choice but to work under the umbrella of one of three companies, paying weekly license fees that ate into their profits, and causing many drivers to work long hours away from their families. The drivers of PDX Yellow Cab came together to found a company in which drivers would not only drive, but have ownership and entrepreneurial freedom.
With the assistance of the Somali American Council of Oregon, the founders advocated for change in the regulations. Along with the emergence of ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft, the drivers were eventually successful in their bid. Today the drivers of PDX Yellow Cab set their schedules, collectively own their company, and are seeking new members. Their use of the co-op model is making it possible for Portland taxi contractors to gain ownership via their work efforts. Further, the change in regulations has opened up opportunity for other cab companies to open for business. Through their bid for autonomy, the owners of PDX Yellow Cab have expanded entrepreneurial access for individuals of diverse definition and identity in Portland.