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Uber rival Bolt gets £17.3M backing from the World Bank’s IFC: What next?

Bolt

Uber rival from Estonia, Bolt is one of the leading European mobility platforms that focuses on making urban travel more convenient, affordable and responsible. The Tallinn-founded company ensures that all Bolt rides in Europe are 100% carbon-neutral with its Green Plan.

Investments from IFC

Now, the ride-hailing service has raised €20 million (nearly £17.3 million) investment from IFC (International Finance Corporation), a member of the World Bank Group. The investment will be used to increase access to mobility services in emerging markets. Moreover, Bolt will be able to expand mobility solutions that create earning opportunities, stimulate small-scale entrepreneurship, and improve access to transportation in Eastern European and African markets with this investment.

Markus Villig, CEO and Founder, Bolt said: “We are looking forward to partnering with IFC to support entrepreneurship further, 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”.

Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC Senior Vice President of Operations, said: “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”.

Targets emerging markets

Initially, Bolt launched its services in South Africa, its first African market in 2016. Currently, the company operates in seven African countries and provides earning opportunities for over 400,000 drivers in 70 cities across the continent. With the fresh funding from IFC, Bolt will target new markets such as Eastern Europe including Ukraine and African markets including Nigeria and South Africa.

Furthermore, the mobility company is piloting a ‘Women Only’ ride-hailing category in South Africa. This new service aims to address safety needs and improve women’s mobility by connecting female drivers with female passengers. The fresh round of investment will let IFC 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.

Founded in 2013 by Markus Villig (then only 19 years old, a high-school student) , Bolt (then called Taxify), had a mission to aggregate all Tallinn and Riga taxis into one platform. And now the tech unicorn is planning to expand in the emerging markets aggressively. Uber definitely has a formidable rival to think about.