Uber Rival Bolt Boosts Value to $2 Billion With New Funding

Bolt Technology OU, a rival to Uber Technologies Inc. in Africa and Eastern Europe, was valued at more than $2 billion in its most recent funding round, according to founder and Chief Executive Officer Markus Villig.

The company raised $20 million in funding from the World Bank this month, taking Tallinn, Estonia-based Bolt’s total fundraising to 500 million euros ($596 million) and setting the company up to expand further into Africa and improve its technology, Villig said in an interview. Previous investors have included Mercedes Benz owner Daimler AG and China’s Didi Chuxing Inc.

Villig, who started the company about seven years ago when he was 19, said Bolt is now the dominant ride-hailing service in its largest African markets, which includes South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Bolt also operates in Tanzania, Ghana and Rwanda and plans to expand further on the continent in the next two years, he said.

“Our aim is to become the biggest player in all our operating countries, so we take a smaller cut from every ride, making it more affordable for customers and more lucrative for our drivers,” Villig said. In Africa, Bolt plans to use its platform to add other services such as grocery and food delivery.

Competition is intense in the ride-hailing industry, with large companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Didi aggressively expanding worldwide. Bolt plans to add markets in Latin America and Asia Pacific through franchising agreements, where the big U.S. incumbents and others are not as focused, Villig said.

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