Bolt, an all-in-one mobility app has announced a $2.71 million (N1.25 billion) pledge to empower more women to drive with Bolt and other ride-hailing platforms.

The pledge forms part of a new campaign launched by Bolt called ‘Women at the Wheel’ which seeks to address the under-representation of women in the mobility sector and help women access the additional earning opportunities provided by working as a driver on a ride-hailing platform.

Venus Lim, Bolt’s director of central operations for ride-hailing, said: “Women are under-represented in many parts of society, but in the mobility sector the inequality is particularly stark.

“There are many reasons why many women are unlikely to consider becoming a driver and this campaign aims to raise awareness of some of the prejudices held against female drivers and make it easier for women to access flexible, independent work on Bolt and other ride-hailing platforms – something which is particularly important now when the cost of living is going up for everyone,” Lim said.

The company noted that the ‘Women at the Wheel’ campaign is running across eleven countries: Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Romania, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Latvia, and Estonia.

The campaign comes at a time when almost nine out of ten women (89 percent) reported seeing their living costs rise in the past twelve months, according to a survey of 2,000 women Bolt conducted across four countries in Europe and Africa. While the vast majority (93 percent) of women surveyed said that they had sought new opportunities to earn additional income over the same period, only 7.2 percent had considered working as a driver on a ride-hailing platform to earn extra money.

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The research conducted by Bolt also found that being a driver continues to be seen as a job predominantly for men, with one in four (25 percent) respondents saying they have not considered it because it wasn’t an activity they saw themselves doing as a woman.

‘Women at the Wheel’ has launched with a video that shows women talking about some of the stereotypes they hear about female drivers. Through the campaign, Bolt has pledged investment into a number of initiatives in different countries to help overcome some of the barriers which prevent them from working in the mobility sector. This includes partnerships with NGOs that campaign on women’s rights and advocate for female drivers, subsidies for licencing costs to make it easier for women to start driving, and the development of new safety features on the Bolt app.

According to the company, these initiatives have been introduced following extensive conversations Bolt conducted with hundreds of women across different countries to understand their attitudes towards the ride-hailing sector and what would motivate them to consider becoming a driver.

In 2021, Bolt held a driver league competition for drivers, as part of its advocacy for service excellence and the continued improvement of its driver rewards program. During the competition, Bolt awarded a top woman driver in the women’s league with a brand new car that would help her earn more income as a vehicle owner, which is one of the challenges faced by most drivers in the ride-hailing industry.

“As a business, we value all our drivers and recognise that they play an integral role in the continued growth of our brand, and we do not take their commitment and efforts for granted. Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls (UN SDG 5) is a key pillar of our work. We at Bolt believe that we have an opportunity to contribute to bridging the gender gap by allowing women to be self-employed in the digital e-hailing space, said Yahaya Mohamed, country manager, of rides.

“Through the Women at the Wheel campaign, we endeavor to continue offering more women in Nigeria, viable economic opportunities to empower them, whilst also advancing the growth of the industry in the market. We remain committed to also ensuring their safety, both as drivers and riders on our platform and that is why we are constantly reviewing and innovating more safety features, to ensure quality measures are in place to deliver the right experience,” Mohammed said.

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