Estonia’s Bolt raised 20 mln euros for Africa, East Europe growth

Estonian unicorn Bolt, which offers ride-hailing and other logistics services, said IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, would invest 20 million euros in it as the two firms seek to promote access to on-demand mobility services in emerging economies.

IFC’s investment and advisory services — targeted towards Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, and African markets, such as Nigeria and South Africa — 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 said.

Bolt launched South Africa – its first African market – in 2016. The company currently operates in seven African countries, serving more than 400,000 drivers in 70 cities across the continent.

Bolt said it was 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.

“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,” said Bolt CEO and founder Markus Villig.

IFC – a member of the World Bank Group – is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets, working in more than 100 countries. In 2020, IFC invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.