Ride-hailing company, Bolt has raised $24 million funding from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) to include more women in its services and expand its offerings across Africa and Eastern Europe, particularly in Nigeria and Ukraine.
These countries represent two of the biggest economies in the two regions where Bolt is seeking to extend its market reach. The latest funding follows a $180 million Series D round led by D1 Capital Partners in December 2020.
Bolt CEO, Markus Villig explains that e-hailing is keen to target demographic groups such as women, that are under-represented or under-served.
We plan to launch this ride-type in more countries and cities throughout the year. We are looking forward to partnering with IFC to further support entrepreneurship, empower women and increase access to affordable mobility services in Africa and Eastern Europe.Markus Villig, Bolt CEO
“Together with the investment from the European Investment Bank last year, we are proud to have sizable and strategically important institutions backing us and recognising the strategic value Bolt is providing to emerging economies,” he added.
On Empowering Women
Bolt says its Women Only ride service is one of the programs that the IFC funding will support. The company has already launched its Women Only ride type in South Africa and following its latest funding, one could expect this service to roll out in its Nigerian market soon.
This allows women to request rides only from women drivers. The service is already available in 12 South African cities including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Rides take place between 6 am and 7 pm daily to guarantee safety for women drivers and riders.
Since Bolt began operations in Nigeria, only men have been able to sign up as driver-partners for the e-hailing company. However, several women have in recent times complained about being harassed and intimidated by unruly Bolt drivers.
Therefore, the introduction of women drivers on the platform would go a long way to making female riders more comfortable and at ease during trips. At the same time, the service will provide income-earning opportunities for women driver-partners.
Expansion to More Cities
Currently present in 14 states across Nigeria, Bolt might be covering more states in the coming months. The e-hailing company launched in Ado-Ekiti and Bauchi on the back of its $180 million Series D, and a similar event could play out going forward.
That said, Bolt may consider growing its market outside of Lagos, as tougher regulations may be on the way following the state’s recent launch of its Lagos Ride scheme.
Since launching in 2013, Bolt has amassed over 50 million customers and 1.5 million drivers in 40 countries, including 400,000 drivers in 70 cities across Africa. Africa remains Bolt’s biggest market, with over half of its business worldwide coming from South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda.
Speaking on the new funding, Country Manager, Bolt Nigeria, Femi Akin-Laguda said:
As leaders in ride-hailing, we are committed to improving the way people move in Nigerian cities. Safety and affordability are at the core of our operations and with this partnership, we’re even more dedicated and committed to increasing earnings, and providing entrepreneurial opportunities for citizens.Femi Akin-Laguda
Featured Image Credit: Bolt
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