Bolt raises US$716 million to speed up expansion plans

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  • Bolt receives its largest-ever funding round, amounting to €628 million (US$716 million) to fast-track the mission to have cities move in more affordable and sustainable ways
  • The company said part of the funds will speed up the expansion of its new and existing mobility and delivery products across Eastern African markets
  • The investments will also boost ride-hailing services in Kenya, with emphasis on enhancing the safety features on the platform for drivers and passengers

Bolt receives funding for expansion

On-demand transport firm Bolt receives its largest-ever funding round for expansion, amounting to €628 million (US$716 million) to fast-track the mission to have cities move in more affordable and sustainable ways.

In a statement, the company said part of the funds will speed up the expansion of its new and existing mobility and delivery products across Eastern African markets.

The investments will also boost ride-hailing services in Kenya, with emphasis on enhancing the safety features on the platform for drivers and passengers.

Bolt will also use the investment to speed up the expansion of Bolt Food services across more urban areas in Kenya, driver and courier empowerment.

Micah Kenneth, Regional Manager, Bolt East Africa said the investment will further contribute to a more reliable marketplace, enhance safety features to improve customer experience, and create more earning opportunities for the drivers and couriers.

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“The funds will speed up the expansion of our existing mobility and delivery products across our region’s markets. We believe that the future of urban transport is a network of on-demand services, including ride-hailing, food and grocery delivery,” he said.

The €628 million investment round was led by Sequoia Capital and Fidelity Management and Research Company LLC with participation from Whale Rock, Owl Rock (a division of Blue Owl), D1, G Squared, Tekne, Ghisallo, and others, and takes Bolt’s valuation to €7.4 billion.

Bolt has announced its largest-ever funding round to fast-track the mission to have cities move in more affordable and sustainable ways. Photo: File

Commenting on the same, Markus Villig, founder and CEO at Bolt, said that for decades, cities have been built for cars, not people, adding that unfortunately, that has led to unsustainable traffic, pollution and loss of public space to parking places.

“We think this approach is outdated,” he said.

“Over the past eight years, we have developed products that offer better and more affordable alternatives for almost every purpose a private car serves. We’re partnering with cities to help people make the switch towards light vehicles such as scooters and e-bikes and shared mobility options like ride-hailing and car-sharing to transform urban areas back into sustainable, people-friendly spaces,” he added.

Villig said the new round of funding – the biggest in the firm’s history – will help them build a future in which cities have less congestion, less pollution and more green spaces where people can easily move around safely and sustainably.

Bolt recently launched a Women-Only ride category in Kenya, geared towards empowering women drivers while providing an alternative to female passengers to flexibly and conveniently move around. The category further aims to enhance the safety and security of women who use Bolt’s platform.

The new category was also geared towards empowering and motivating more women drivers to join the ride-hailing industry.

“This means that more women can earn an income by driving with Bolt. Besides this, the category offers women
passengers an additional choice to be driven by a woman driver,” the company said.

“Bolt continues to look for ways to make urban transportation more convenient and flexible to the entire rider community. Women Only Category is part of our initiative to empower women drivers while providing an alternative to female passengers in Mombasa to flexibly and conveniently move around the city in a way that is most comfortable and communally acceptable for them,” Micah, said.

Bolt is also investing heavily in green transport options across Africa.

Other products that the funds will boost include; car-sharing service dubbed Bolt Drive in Europe; and Bolt Market, a 15-minute grocery delivery service.

Bolt Market, one of the company’s newest products, was developed and launched during the pandemic and already operated dozens of stores in ten countries across Europe. With this new investment, Bolt will speed up its expansion rapidly in 2022 and plans to have hundreds of stores operational by the end of the year.

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

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