In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, a lone woman hops into a cab on her way across the city. She has chosen this particular cab for a special reason.
The vehicle is registered under An- Nisa, an online taxi-hailing service run by women. It serves female passengers and young children only.
It all started when the founder, a budding entrepreneur, discovered that many women who used cabs in Nairobi grappled with the thought of jumping into vehicles with unfamiliar men.
“I was always uncomfortable being in a car with someone I didn’t know, especially if it was a male. So I was always in search of a female driver. I realized that a lot of ladies are still in that position,” An-Nisa Cabs Founder Mehnaz Sarwar said in an Interview in Nairobi.
It is estimated that female drivers make up just three percent of the 12 000 drivers registered by online cab-hailing applications.
With this new service An-Nisa hopes to get more women not just in their cabs, but also behind the wheel.
Mehnar decided to start a taxi service that would cater to the women. But first she had to find female drivers in a male-dominated industry.
Susan Cherotich, is one of over 50 female drivers who signed up for the new service. She has worked for all the other online cab services, but this is different.
“It is long overdue. Now that we have our own app, we run it and especially for us, it is more empowering,” Cherotich said.
In the last three years, at least a dozen online cab services have launched in Kenya to meet the changing needs of commuters.
The companies which run the applications take between 15 and 25 percent of the money drivers make on their trips.
An-Nisa’s 10 percent commission is low in comparison.
“Now that the commissions are lower, we’ll be able to earn a bit more. And because most of the riders are ladies, should they all embrace this app, we’ll be able to earn more out of it,” she added.
The app has been running for barely a week, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing. It has experienced technical challenges which a team is working to resolve.
Story by Wilkister Nyabwa