By Prince Osuagwu
America may arguably be the most stabilised economy by many indices, but $6b-valued ride-hailing company, Bolt is not playing in the market and not planning to be there in the near future.
Instead, Bolt finds favour in Nigeria and African market despite uncertainties and stories of harsh business environment and political instability.
In Nigeria, Bolt, rivals Uber; another ride hailing app, and together in competition they have combined to transform public transport system and improve the experiences of average Nigerian commuter who comes in contact with their services.
While Uber is in 70 countries of the world, Bolt operates in 300 cities across 45 countries, and most interestingly, the countries are only in Europe and Africa only. With that, the firm has managed harvest more than 75 million customers which among other factors helped to push its value to about $6 billion.
The Estonian startup, appears to have made Africa its primary focus because of growing population and lack of transport infrastructure which makes the continent a lucrative market for car sharing.
In an interview with Reuters recently, Chief Executive Officer of Bolt, Markus Villig didn’t make any apologies about his decision not to take his business to the US but to Nigeria. He was quoted to have said: “It’s very clear that you can build a huge company, hundreds of billions of valuation, without ever going to the U.S.
“The growth opportunity for us as a company is much bigger in Africa, than what it would be in a developed country where everybody has cars and public transport is available” .
In fact, 27-year-old Villig believes that there’s a fundamental shift in how investors and tech companies see the world at the moment. For him, even if Bolt decides to go into the economies it is now not operating in, it could do so riding on the back of potential partners.
“Our business is capital intensive, so it’s likely we are going to have more partnerships and could raise more funding in the future.”
Bolt raised about $693.84 million in August from investors such as Sequoia and G Squared.
The funding helped it strengthen the food delivery chain which it started in 2019. Villig, however, said the firm plans to invest more to add a bigger selection of restaurants and make its services more affordable.