Estonian ride-hailing company Bolt has announced that it has received a €20M investment from International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group. The startup is partnering with IFC, to expand its mobility services in emerging markets.
Aims to make urban travel easy!
Bolt was founded in 2013 by Markus Villig, Martin Villig, and Oliver Leisalu. Previously known as Taxify, Bolt is a transportation platform that provides ride-hailing, micromobility, package delivery, and scooter-sharing services.
The company’s mission is to make urban travel easier, quicker, and more reliable. It has more than 50 million users in over 40 countries across Europe and Africa. The company claims that all Bolt rides in Europe are 100 per cent carbon-neutral as part of its Green Plan, a long-term commitment to reduce the ecological footprint of the company.
In addition, the company also offers safety features in both its rider and driver apps, including an SOS button – to contact emergency services quickly if needed.
Use of the funds
IFC’s €20M investment and advisory services will help Bolt expand mobility solutions that create earning opportunities, stimulate small-scale entrepreneurship, and improve access to transportation in Eastern European and African markets.
The company is already operating in South Africa – its first African market – since 2016. And currently, it offers its services in seven African countries, providing earning opportunities for more than 400,000 drivers in 70 cities across the continent.
IFC’s funding will be targeted towards Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, and African markets, such as Nigeria and South Africa.
Empowering women riders and drivers
Bolt is currently piloting a “Women Only” ride-hailing category in South Africa – a new service aiming to address safety needs and improve women’s mobility by connecting female drivers with female passengers.
IFC will support Bolt’s ongoing work to empower women riders and drivers by improving their access to safe and affordable transportation and creating new economic opportunities.
Markus Villig, CEO and Founder, Bolt said, “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. Together with the investment from the European Investment Bank last year, we are proud to have sizeable and strategically important institutions backing us and recognising the strategic value Bolt is providing to emerging economies.”
A brief about IFC
IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is also the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. It works in more than 100 countries, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries.
In 2020, IFC invested $22B in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC Senior VP of Operations, says, “Technology can and should unlock new pathways for sustainable development and women’s empowerment. 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.”