By Henry Uche
The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) has given thumbs-up to Bolt company (Formerly Taxify) for its resilience, doggedness and perseverance to move forward even in the midst of global pandemic.
In a media chat with the NIPC media team, the Director, Strategic Communications of NIPC, Emeka Ofor, charged corporate organizations and investors alike bto find out what makes Progressive Organizations tick even in the face of turbulent business environment. “We commend Bolt for their determination to thrive despite all odds. We acknowledge their investments. We thus call on investors across board to see possibilities in anything life throws at humanity. Other countries in the world have moved forward and even making more progress at this critical time, of course there are opportunities in every problem, Nigeria can’t afford to lag,” he asseverated.
On his part, the Country Manager for Bolt, Mr Femi Akin-Laguda, affirmed that making profits was not the company’s top priority but keeping its personnel focused and offering unparalleled services to customers across the 25 States it operates.
According to him, business expansion to reach every State in the country within a short time with unique experience was their driving force while ensuring that its human resources are not redundant but upgraded for future challenges.
“It is people who brings the profits. Many companies were busy chasing profit but we paid attention to our personnel and made sure they are updated in knowledge, though we lost 95 – 98 % of business during the height of the lockdown but we bounced up to becoming the leader in Nigeria’s ride-hailing industry.
“Our unprecedented growth stems from being people-centric, focusing on product improvement and implementing a data-based strategy to become the largest Ride-hailing Service provider in Nigeria.
“It been an amazing ride. When we arrived in the country in 2016, there were other players and platforms in the market. Many joined about the same time, but four years down the line, we are now the leading player. The core of our story is people – a group of young people who are focused, hungry, passionate and smart.
The country manager stressed that the company maintains a flat structure which enables its personnel to take responsibility of their job and eventually see the results. He put, “We don’t just work hard, but smart. Being focused has helped us to achieve things with more limited budgets than other players and we do it Prudently.
“In a business such as ride-hailing where the margins are extremely narrow, you need to be extremely efficient in the way you operate your business. It has been challenging to keep all active staff on board, but having daring human resources pays in the long run.
“We remained focused, after the lockdown we started recovering, we had all resources available to be able to kick off right away. Then there was a huge recovery for us and our drivers in the months that came after. Within six months after the worse wave of the pandemic, we edged full recovery and by the end of the year surpassed the numbers that we had before the pandemic.
“Though a tough year however it was a good yea because we were always looking at the situation and looking for ways to improve the value proposition to our customers constantly,” he said.
Akin-Laguda further disclosed that they are currently operating in 25 States and the FCT in the Federation (in 29 cities) but has plans to expand. “We would love that one day we can be everywhere, but the data will decide. The data would back up our plans and thought processes.
“We have good relations with the Ministry of Transport across the different States. We storm every State with the government’s approval. There are States we haven’t taken yet, however, we’re still engaging with them until we get to that point,”
He added that Bolt recently collaborated with Sterling Bank Alternative Finance to launch a vehicle financing program to make it easier for people to drive in their platform. “This is the first of many deals. We have a couple more deals in the pipeline. We have rolled out a ride-hailing insurance program to mitigate risks and improve user experience on their platform that covers all drivers and passengers in all cities,”
Regarding Return On Investment (ROI) he stated that the ride-hailing business is a long-term game. “I will say that the industry is still in its early stages. We are not yet at the point of getting those returns. For now, we are looking at growth and expansion and we are in the investment stage to drive the growth in the sector.
“Since we launched in Nigeria, we have invested more than €50 million from campaigns to technology and our people. This is just a scratch in what we want to do. There is still a long path for us. We do have confidence that in the next 5 to 10 years, when the market becomes more mature, the revenue will be there to set a solid (ROI). Every successful company I know has focused on growth, not on returns on investment,” he affirmed.