• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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How Bolt is advancing the growth of Nigeria’s sector

How Bolt is advancing the growth of Nigeria’s sector

Prior to 2016, when the ride-hailing sector in Nigeria was in its infancy, with only a few platforms offering ride-hailing services in major cities like Lagos and Abuja, access to mobility services was very limited and expensive. But like any other industry, the growth potential for the mobility and ride-hailing industry attracted new entrants. By the end of 2016, the sector had grown to about 14 ride-hailing start-ups in Lagos alone. Among the 14 was Bolt, which was then known as Taxify, which not only survived these early days but has gone on to become the industry leader within just five years of its operation.

But with just four employees and 152 drivers, the journey to the top would have seemed impossible in the face of major competition and a newly disrupted industry. When Bolt launched in Lagos in 2016, the company had to compete with other platforms, including local and international start-ups, and a clear market leader. However, by the following year, the ride-hailing company expanded to Abuja, and then Ibadan, Owerri, and Benin City in the year after. These moves placed the company in more Nigerian cities than its competitors and began a series of expansions that continued.

The Bolt team’s focus on remarkable service offerings for its customers and a commitment to driver welfare has seen the company grow at a swift and unprecedented yet steady pace. The five-year journey has been propelled by operational excellence, constant innovation, and a willingness to embrace the challenges that exist in a new industry with unique pressures, including lack of access to cars or financing for drivers and, more recently, new regulations and has served as a test for the Nigerian team’s colloquial motto “We Move”.

In 2019, Bolt rebranded from Taxify to better reflect the company’s vision to build a more convenient and affordable future of urban mobility. Beyond conventional 4-wheeled ride-hailing, this vision has come to include motorbikes and scooters, food, and grocery delivery. For the Bolt Nigerian team, this diversification has introduced a Tricycle category that is now available in 5 cities across Nigeria and Bolt Food in Lagos, a delivery service bringing the best food from top restaurants closer to customers.

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With a new name and mission, the company came out with an invigorated purpose to build the best way to move across Nigeria. This has inspired Bolt’s growth strategy in Nigeria, and the ride-hailing company has grown in leaps and bounds over the years to operate in 33 cities in 25 states in 2021 and still aims to solve mobility needs on a broader scale.
Bolt’s fast growth can also be attributed to its team of young employees, growing from just four in 2016 to over 140 employees across Nigeria. With an average age of 26, Bolt’s team is an example of the average youths’ exceptional talent and ability to solve big problems innovatively when given the opportunity. The team is responsible for the innovative strategies the company has employed, which have facilitated exponential growth in its driver force from 152 drivers in inception to over 35 000 drivers presently.

But how has the company managed such growth in such a short time? By ensuring that the welfare of every member of the Bolt community remains a priority. This means operating a platform in which riders can access safe, affordable, and convenient rides while drivers have an opportunity to earn in a profitable, reliable, and flexible manner.
Bolt has been ahead of the pack in providing the features and perks that make a successful ride-hailing platform. Over the years, the company has launched the first of its kinds of driver verification and ride-hailing insurance cover to secure riders and drivers. They’ve introduced a free in-app call and chat feature that allows riders and drivers to cut the airtime costs associated with using the platform. In 2021, they launched two-vehicle financing partnerships to enable drivers to purchase their own vehicles with affordable financing. They continue to invest in the factors that satisfy drivers and riders.

Speaking on the company’s growth, Bolt’s Country Manager, Femi Akin-Laguda, said, “Our growth in Nigeria is a testament of our commitment to Nigerians. At Bolt, we continue to find innovative ways to cater to local demand for mobility services. Our ride-hailing business is built on safety, efficiency, and easing mobility for riders while offering drivers a flexible opportunity to earn more income. This efficiency is duplicated in our other products and is a way to augment the earning opportunities for Nigerians and build the Nigerian economy.
We continue to be excited by our growth since we first launched and the opportunities that lay ahead. Looking into the future, we will continue to operate efficiently and innovate to remain the preferred choice among drivers and riders alike,” he concluded.
With the impressive growth in just five years, one can only imagine what the company can achieve in the coming years. Bolt is on a journey to build a presence in Nigeria’s 36 states, further deepening its motive to redefine mobility in Nigeria. This would offer every Nigerian the opportunity to experience affordable, safe, and convenient transportation and maybe even more.

Emaka Uchenna is a public affairs analyst writes from Lagos