Mobility app Bolt receives €20m to expand in emerging markets

4 Mar 2021

Bolt CEO Markus Villig. Image: Bolt

Bolt said it will use the funding from the World Bank’s IFC to improve access to transport in emerging economies.

Mobility company Bolt has received €20m in funding from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The start-up, which offers ride-sharing and e-scooter services, said it will use the IFC funding to further develop mobility solutions that “create earning opportunities, stimulate entrepreneurship and improve access to transportation in emerging economies”.

Together with the IFC, Bolt also said it is committing to empowering women and giving them better access to mobility. Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC senior vice-president of operations, said: “Technology can and should unlock new pathways for sustainable development and women’s empowerment.

“Our investment in Bolt aims to help tap into technology to disrupt the transport sector in a way that is good for the environment, creates more flexible work opportunities for women, and provides safer and more affordable transportation access in emerging markets.”

Bolt launched a women-only ride-share initiative at the end of last year, giving women passengers the option of requesting women drivers only. The feature is currently available in South Africa, but Bolt said it will introduce the initiative to more countries and cities in 2021.

The IFC’s investment is the latest in a series of funds raised by Bolt. The company began 2020 by securing €50m from the European Investment Bank. It closed a €100m funding round led by Naya Capital Management in May of that year and a €150m round in December led by D1 Capital Partners.

“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,” Bolt CEO Markus Villig said.

“Together with the investment from the European Investment Bank last year, we are proud to have sizable and strategically important institutions backing us and recognising the strategic value Bolt is providing to emerging economies.”

Bolt is also expanding its presence in Ireland. The company launched its taxi-hailing app here at the end of 2020, and this week revealed that it is hoping to bring 10,000 e-scooters to Irish roads to create a ‘multi-modal transport platform’.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021