An-Nisa and more ride-hailing services are creating an inclusive space for female cab drivers in Nairobi

Online women cabbies currently only make up around 3 percent of the city’s estimated 12,000 e-taxi drivers
Young woman adjusting rear view mirror in car, view through car window

Creating a safe space for women has been an issue since the dawn of time, and if this issue remains unaddressed, with the current global technological advancements, women are at risk of being even further marginalized. It is this gap that An-Nisa – a female-driver only ride hailing service in Kenya – has spotted and strives to close with specially modified methods to help women.

An-Nisa charges 10% of driver’s earnings, as opposed to the industry standard of around 25%, Mehnaz Sarwar, founder of An-Nisa sees this “as a way of empowering women who mostly go through unique challenges and need financial freedom”.

“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,” Sarwar adds.

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Grace Mutota, a driver who recently registered as a driver for An-Nisa, earns about $300 after deducting all her expenses. An-Nisa has 300 female drivers on its roster. Courting 100 drivers and 1000 app downloads in its first week of launch.

Healthy Competition

An-nisa doesn’t operate as a monopoly in this market. Taxify introduced ‘vehicle financing’ for drivers who cannot purchase upfront, giving priority access to women.

Taxify East Africa general manager, Shivachi Muleji says “One in every 50 drivers is a woman. A lot of women on the Taxify platform are sole breadwinners in their households, they go out of their way working for longer hours to maximize their income”

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Little Cab, owned by Safaricom, has registered 500 female drivers since 2016. Little Cab has an option for a passenger to choose either a male or a female driver. It also has a safety feature for women drivers, in case they face danger while dropping off riders.

There is also Mondo, which launched in 2016 with 200 registered women drivers. Although these numbers look like much, many drivers are registered to more than one taxi app, which essentially makes some numbers repeat in different places. “This enables me to have riders all the time,” Grace Mutuota says.

Only a third of the 2.5 million people employed in the formal sector are women (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics). Regarding this small amount of women in the workforce, Sarwar hopes to narrow the gender gap, through An-Nisa facilitating female self-employment. “I want women to have an option of thriving in this male-dominated field,” Sarwar says. “That’s my vision.”

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