Bolt gets R365m from World Bank unit – which may help to get more women drivers

March 5, 2021
Posted in Tech
March 5, 2021 Tumelo Moloi

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is part of the World Bank, has provided €20 million (R365 million) in funding to Uber competitor Bolt.

South Africa is one of the Estonian company’s biggest markets.

“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,” said Markus Villig, CEO of Bolt. In 2013, Villig founded Bolt at the age of 19, after dropping out of university. He is the youngest founder of a billion-dollar company in Europe.

TechCrunch reports the IFC investment will be used to expand Bolt’s services in Ukraine and Nigeria, among other markets.

According to the IFC, its investment in Bolt should also assist in empowering women.

“Our investment in Bolt aims to help tap into technology to disrupt the transport sector in a way that is good for the environment, creates more flexible work opportunities for women, and provides safer and more affordable transportation access in emerging markets”, said Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC senior vice president of operations.

Bolt recently introduced a service which allows women to request female drivers. The “women only” service was wildly popular in a pilot in East London and Rustenburg in November, the company said. It was launched across South Africa in January.

Bolt said this week that it planned to launch more “women only” rides in other countries this year.

Bolt is currently operating in 200 cities in 40 countries, and launched under its previous name, Taxify, in South Africa in 2016. Africa now represents more than half of the company’s business.

Last year, Bolt raised €150 million (R2.7 billion) from various international investors.

The company faced driver protests in South Africa last year, after introducing the cut-rate Bolt Go service.


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