Meet Kenya’s only taxi hailing service that exclusively carries women and Children

Meet Kenya’s only taxi hailing service that exclusively carries women and Children.
  • Since 2014, Nairobi has experienced a surge in taxi apps, both local and international.
  • One such app is An-Nisa Taxi, an e-taxi app launched last September that exclusively cater for women and children passengers in Nairobi city.
  • Due to their flexibility and fairly affordable rides, the apps have quickly become one of the important ways for residents to cope with the city’s mad traffic.

Kenya’s capital like most global cities is filled with digital taxi’s competing to woo the middle class and working class with their pocket friendly rides.

Since 2014, Nairobi has experienced a surge in taxi hailing service apps, both local and international, including Uber, Taxify, Little Cab and Mondo ride.

Due to their flexibility and fairly affordable rides, they have quickly become one of the important ways for residents to cope with the city’s poorly managed public transport system.

Nairobi’s tech savvy burgeoning middle-class population has only increased their popularity.

While virtually anyone is free to register as a cab driver, the industry is still very much a ‘man’s affair.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), only a third of the 2.5 million people employed in the formal sector are women. The same reflects Kenya’s fast growing digital taxi industry.

While the apps have improved access to the driver’s seat it hasn’t necessarily make it completely safe for female drivers or female passengers.

Occasional rivalry between new age drivers and the traditional taxi industry, angry at the shrinking of their business have also made it dangerous for both female drivers and female passengers.

There have numerous reports of female passengers being attacked by drivers.

All these factors and more made one Kenyan woman roll up her sleeves and come up with a solution targeting women and vulnerable groups like children.

Meet Mehnaz Sarwar, 33, the founder of An-Nisa Taxi, an e-taxi app launched last September that exclusively cater for women and children passengers in Nairobi city.

Sarwar, a Muslim woman who wears a full length niqab when in public, had concerns about riding with a male driver and decide to develop a female-focused app.

"I was always uncomfortable being in a car with someone I didn’t know, especially if it was a male. So I was always in search of a female driver. I realized that a lot of ladies are still in that position."

Armed with $10,000 from her previous business, a family restaurant business and other funds from family she launched An-Nisa, which means “women” in Arabic.

“My experiences motivated me to start this app. I always feared, as a Muslim woman, and I wanted to be driven by a fellow woman which was rare to find,” says Sarwar.

Within the first week of service, she managed to register 100 women drivers and there were a thousand downloads of the app. There are now 300 female drivers on her roster.

Many women, Sarwar says, feel much safer and comfortable when driven by a fellow lady.

With a low number of women in the employment sector, Sarwar also hopes An-Nisa will go along way in narrowing of gender gap by making women employ themselves.

“I want women to have an option of thriving in this male-dominated field,” Sarwar says.“That’s my vision.”

It is not An-Nisa Taxi alone, however which serve women. Other digital taxi services in Kenya have also since introduced female drivers.

Mondo, which launched in 2016 currently has 200 registered women drivers. Little Cab, owned by Kenya’s largest mobile network, Safaricom, has registered 500 female drivers up from just 27 when they launched in 2016 while Little Cab has an option for a passenger to choose either a male or a female driver.

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