Uber Rival Bolt raises $713mn in fresh funding

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Ride-hailing firm Bolt has raised $713 million in fresh funding.

In a statement, the European firm says it will use the funds to accelerate the expansion of its existing mobility and delivery products across its markets.

“The funds will go into expanding the company’s network of ride-hailing services, food delivery and micro mobility in Africa and Europe,” the company said.

According to the firm, these include investments towards enhancing safety features on the platform for drivers and riders, deepening vehicle ownership initiatives, driver and courier empowerment and sustainability projects.

Bolt will also use the funds to boost its new under 15-minute grocery delivery service, Bolt Market recently launched in Europe.

The new investment round now values Bolt at about $4.75 billion, which is more than double its last private valuation of $2 billion.

The funds were backed by new investors who include Sequoia, Tekne and Ghisallo, as well as Bolt’s existing investors G Squared, D1 Capital and Naya.

Commenting on the development, Kenneth Micah the East Africa Regional Manager for Bolt said the company is focused on creating innovative, quality, affordable and reliable services that will enhance urban mobility and provide viable economic opportunities across Eastern Africa.

“We continue to invest in products and services that improve the lives of our customers across the globe. We also continue to proactively add more shared and electric vehicles on our platform. We believe that the future of urban transport is a network of on-demand services including ride-hailing, food and grocery delivery,” he said.

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Markus Villig, CEO at Bolt, said the company is also keen on reducing pollution, congestion as well as accidents.

“Cars are responsible for 90 percent of issues in urban transport, including pollution, congestion, accidents, and the parking lots taking up city space. Bolt’s mission is to motivate people to give up their private car by offering them more affordable and sustainable alternatives. With our wide range of mobility and delivery services, we provide a better solution to almost every use-case and distance,” he said.

The deal comes at a time when the company says it has experienced growth in the past year. The firm says it has grown to 75 million customers across the 45 countries that it operates in across Africa and Europe.

The new investment round now values Bolt at about $4.75 billion, which is more than double its last private valuation of $2 billion/ COURTESY

The company is currently piloting Bolt Market in its home market Estonia and preparing to launch 10 European countries soon.

“Upcoming markets include the Baltics and Central Europe, as well as Sweden, Portugal, Croatia, and Romania and later in African markets. Bolt will use its existing technology and courier network from Bolt Food, as well as its experience in food delivery operations, to launch the new service,” the company said.

A busy year

The funding comes in the backdrop of the launch of its new feature, which enables drivers on its platform to withdraw incomes, as and when they need it.

The option, dubbed Early Cash-Out, has been introduced to assist drivers improve their cash flows. It also allows them to access to their dues, which includes bonuses, passenger discounts and card payments.

Previously, drivers waited for a week to access their earnings.

Earlier this year, the announced the launch of a new ride category, ‘Bolt Green’, which offers eco-friendly rides as the company moves towards reducing its ecological footprint.

In Kenya, the company said it was looking into using hybrid and electric cars in this category, to reduce emissions during trips taken on the Bolt platform.

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“We continue to scale up our operations for the benefit of our customers and the communities in which we operate. Having electric and hybrid vehicles on our platform is a step towards ensuring environmentally conscious ways for people to move around in the city and reduce our ecological footprint,” said Ola Akinnusi, Kenya Country Manager at Bolt.

“The new category also aims at expanding Bolts ride options thereby creating more economic opportunities for drivers and providing passengers with more options to choose from,” he added.

Currently, Bolt Green is available to Bolt customers in Nairobi with plans to expand to more cities soon.

Akinnusi added that Bolt Green forms part of the company’s global environmental strategy called ‘Green Plan’ meant to reduce its environmental footprint through carbon offsetting and by bringing scooters, electric cars and other environmentally friendly transport options for people to move in cities.

Wanjiku Njuguna is a Kenyan-based business reporter with experience of more than eight years.

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