Estonian scaleup Bolt receives additional €20 million to increase access to mobility services in emerging markets

Bolt-founders

Fast-growing Tallinn-based scaleup Bolt is partnering with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to promote access to on-demand mobility services in emerging economies. IFC’s €20 million 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.

Bolt launched in South Africa – its first African market – in 2016. The company currently operates 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.

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”.

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”.

In 2020, Bolt (founded in 2013) expanded to cover 200 cities in 40 countries, reached 50 million users globally and announced a partnership with Google to appear in the Google Map’s journey planner, giving it even more visibility. In total the scaleup has raised over €500 million in funding, managing to still zoom ahead despite the pandemic.