An Nisa Taxi, a women-only car-hailing service has started operations in Kenya. The company began operations in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital in September and has brought more than fifty women drivers to its fold within its first three weeks of operation.
In recent times, the streets of Kenya have been strewn with different car-hailing services, hijacking thousand of passengers from the traditional taxi/bus services in the country. However, not one of these services has been focused on a particular gender.
An Nisa taxi was founded by Mehnaz Sarwar, a social entrepreneur who set up the project with over 1 million Kenyan shillings. According to Mehnaz, the idea of starting the service was provoked by her experiences and the frosty comments she got from women who patronize car-hailing services with men drivers in Nairobi.
“Because of my religious background, I always sought out female taxi drivers, so I thought if I require this, so must many other women,” she told journalists in an interview. Literally, An Nisa is an Arabic word that translates to women. As such, the taxi-hailing service was created to serve only women and young children through it women drivers that are spread across the city,” she replied in an interview with journalists.
“It is a source of empowerment for those ladies and at the same time, it makes a safer option for women who are not comfortable being driven by men, maybe for religious reasons or safety concerns,” she continued.
Nisataxi is breaking into a market that already has international car-hailing services take the large portion of the revenue, but Mehnaz is optimistic the company will scale up very fast and spread its wings to other cities. In Kenya, the safe mobility of women in public transport has started debates in the past due to the harassment and sexual assaults some of these women face while in transit.
Various organizations and groups in Kenya have also championed women causes due to the constant violence they face while commuting in the country. In an independent study by Flone Initiative, the research showed that 73 percent of the participants of the survey had heard of or witnessed harassment of women and girls in public spaces in Kenya.
“The exclusivity is because the fear is both from drivers and customers and women decide they want to choose an option where they feel safe and the drivers are empowered,” Mehnaz told journalists.
Aside from the fact that it will address a pivotal issue that bothers on role both gender play in Kenya, An Nisa taxi platform is also helping its women drivers to generate thousands of shillings in return. Unlike the other car-hailing services it is competing with, An Nisa drivers will get 90 percent of the fares while the remaining 10 percent goes to the company.
The 2017 World Economic Forum gender pay gap report revealed the challenges and travails of Kenyan women who earn less than the opposite sex in the same job. The study shows that a woman will be paid KES 55 for every KES 100 a man is paid for the same job in the country. Thus, the An Nisa taxi is not only poised to bridge this gap but to ensure these women earn more to cater for basic needs.
“Now that the commissions are lower, we’ll be able to earn a bit more. And because most of the riders are ladies, should they all embrace this app, we’ll be able to earn more out of it,” Susan Cherotich, one of the female drivers who signed up for the new service told technextng.
Although many of the established car-hailing giants that operate in Nairobi and Kenya at large have also created a level playing field by registering female taxi drivers on their platforms, An Nisa taxi is built to exclusively give women and children nice experiences while in transit in the ‘male-dominated taxi business in Kenya’.