For women, by women - a new ride-hailing app for women and children is due to be launched in Cape Town by the end of the year.
Next year, it’s Johannesburg and Durban’s turn.
It’s an indictment of our times and the country’s shameful track record of violence against women and children.
And for entrepreneur Danielle Wright, it’s a case of when life hands you lemons, you seize the opportunity.
But it’s not a case of profiting off the national emergency in gender-based violence: Wright said the project was initiated two years ago already and they’re offering a solution to a need.
“When I had my twin girls, I often needed to take taxis but there were never car seats. And safety was always a concern,” Wright explains.
Already, they’ve seen huge interest. And the feedback they’ve had has been mostly positive.
The app, which will soon be available on both the App Store and Play Store, will be connecting women drivers with women passengers and children younger than 18 years.
No men will be allowed to use it or ride in the cars whatsoever. Should a driver arrive and find a man in the vicinity of the rider, she will leave the trip.
The app is geared not only as a safer way for women and children to travel, but also as a safe way for female drivers to earn money.
For consumers, the app allows women to utilise the ride-hail services and also for parents to have their children fetched or collected from school and extramurals without concern for their safety.
For women who want to earn an income, it allows them to enter a niche market where female drivers are not only under-represented, but are also targeted by criminals. The app helps them to earn an income safely and work in their own time.
“It’s a way to empower women. To help them earn money - especially the single moms out there.”
She says they’ve met with female drivers from other ride-hailing services and realised safety was a huge concern for them.
But it’s not only the drivers - female customers have been targeted repeatedly around the world.
“One woman told us that she had ordered a taxi but when she got in, the male driver told her that he just needs to make a quick detour to his house, because he had forgotten to lock his doors. She ordered him immediately to cancel the trip and jumped out the car in fear.”
The ChaufHer service is built around safety with features such as an SOS panic button, that will summon a response team, a one-time pin, and driver training. Drivers are tested by women and ChaufHer is utilising the services of a third-party company to do background checks.
Wright says the idea behind ChaufHer stemmed from the need identified in the local market.
“Women and children represent the most vulnerable members of society, but they also represent our greatest untapped resource. ChaufHer is a way for us to provide opportunities and freedom of movement to these groups.”
She says a school in Joburg has already contacted them about a partnership.
“They have about 150 children who are regularly being dropped by taxis outside the school gates - it’s a huge safety concern for them.”
And with 170 drivers already signed up, ChaufHer is ready to go.
It will be offering booster seats for young children too.
And it exhaustively vet its drivers and riders to ensure a safer environment.
Both drivers and riders need to register with ChaufHer, every registration is thoroughly checked before any journeys, and only credit and debit card payments will be allowed Wright says, via PayGenius.
It has also identified designated safe areas, such as in unutilised parking garages and shopping areas, where its women drivers will be able to wait for trips without worrying about their own safety.
“These safety spaces are set up close to partner events or in high-demand areas to help keep our drivers safe.”
* Georgina Crouth is a consumer watchdog with serious bite. Write to her at [email protected], tweet her @georginacrouth and follow her on Facebook.
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