Female drivers take the wheel on this ride-hailing app

Image: Supplied

Image: Supplied

Bolt wants their Women-only category to create a safe space for female passengers – and help generate earning opportunities for female drivers.

December 2020, e-hailing service Bolt introduced their Women-only ride option, which allows female riders to request women drivers only. The aim of this measure is two-fold: to create a safer space for female passengers and generate additional earning opportunities for women drivers.

And now, the category is also accepting cash payments for trips between 6 am and 6 pm. Previously, only card payments were applicable. Bolt believes this move will supplement women drivers’ income, whether they drive full-time or part-time on the platform.

“Following extensive engagements with female driver partners, we have decided to make the cash option visible to passengers as cash remains king in our market,” explains Zethu Dhlodhlo, Bolt operations manager for South Africa.

“Furthermore, new data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2020/21 suggests that in low to middle income countries, such as South Africa, 17% of women are entrepreneurs, and 35% aspire to become self-employed,” he adds. In other words, more than half of the women in developing countries see entrepreneurship as the key to a better life. “We believe that the Bolt platform provides women with the freedom to be entrepreneurs in their own right,” Dhlodhlo adds.

Bolt Women-only operating hours are applicable in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Emalahleni, Mbombela, Mthatha, Pietermaritzburg, Thohoyandou, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, East London and Rustenburg.

Driver experiences:

Criminal law student Prudence Ngobeni, 32 years old and from Johannesburg has been driving with Bolt since May this year. “As a young and independent female in South Africa, I know the work that comes with wanting to be successful,” she says.

She initially used someone else’s car but in just a few months since she started driving with Bolt, she was able to buy her own. “I’m excited that Bolt affords me the ability to work when I need to and earn enough to continue my final year towards my qualification in criminal law.” She also hopes to one day own a fleet of cars, which she’ll use to empower other drivers.

Mom-of-three Thembekile Mokaila (43), from Johannesburg, became a Bolt driver after she was retrenched about a year ago. “As a mum, my kids are my top priority so after being retrenched, I needed to ensure that they were still taken care of,” she says.

“In just a year since driving with Bolt, I’ve met incredible locals and grown my network significantly. I tell my daughters that respect is earned, and independence is a necessity – and I’m lucky that driving with Bolt has afforded me just that.”

Natasha Bailey studied book-keeping and has been a Bolt driver for about two years. “I’ve always loved a challenge, especially one that makes it seem as if being a female puts me at a disadvantage. Driving with Bolt not only took me from the passenger seat to a driver in command, but also highlighted that there is space for women in every industry.

“While I may have just one vehicle right now, I plan to create a fleet to provide access for other females looking to earn a living through e-hailing,” Natasha, from Cape Town, says.

Commitment to safety

Bolt has implemented several comprehensive safety measures for drivers and passengers who use the platform. And the company’s safety team continues to evaluate existing features and develop new ones. Safety features include an in-app integrated SOS emergency button, 24/7 customer support to share feedback, queries through the in-app function or by sending an email to southafrica@bolt.eu.