Given the high rate of unemployment, the rise of entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa is growing at an exponential rate with different individuals being drawn to the flexibility of being a business owner as well as the sustainable earning opportunities. To celebrate this year’s Entrepreneurship Day, marked on August 21, Uber is putting the spotlight on its Driver Partners who wear many hats and continue to be industrious, focused and resilient.
Below, we highlight three female Uber drivers from across Africa, as they give us a glimpse into their lives and show what inspires them, what they enjoy most about their work, and what the future holds for them. Read on…
Palesa Sempe – South Africa: Palesa started her career as an Uber driver four years ago, after being retrenched from her then job and being without work for four years. Palesa is now back in the driver’s seat of her own life as an Uber driver. Palesa, a single mom to two boys, is now able to provide for her children and is breaking barriers as a woman in what is traditionally viewed as a man’s job. “Being an Uber driver has helped me survive as I don’t bother anyone for financial help. I am able to put food on the table and take care of my kids. I would really encourage anyone looking for financial freedom to consider driving for Uber, as it has helped me maintain my family.”
Jane – Kenya: Jane joined Uber after losing her job and staying at home with nothing to do for five months due to unemployment. Before driving with Uber, Jane was a volunteer driver and then worked as a driver for a Nairobi family for a few months. She says driving comes naturally to her. Jane has been an Uber driver for almost four years and has a rating of 4.93 which she believes is a testament to her good service and reliability as a driver. When asked about what she appreciates most about driving with Uber she says, “Uber’s customer care service is good to me as a driver and our customers. In case of anything, they are always able to sort it out”.
Lindelani – South Africa: Lindelani, a 31-year old driver-partner has always dreamt of owning his own business. The Joburg based driver left his hometown of uMhlabuyalingana in pursuit of a better life in the city of gold. Before joining Uber, Lindelani was one of the unemployed young people in the country who did not have the means of starting his own business and was reluctant to join the corporate world. He wanted a different career path compared to his peers. According to Lindelani, “I joined Uber to fulfil my long term dream of being an entrepreneur. Since my early days, I have always wanted to become my own boss and leave a legacy for my family. I am currently pursuing another business adventure of owning a petrol filling station. I am happy because Uber allows me flexible hours which will ensure that I can focus on multiple business avenues.” Through Uber, Lindelani has found a full-time earning opportunity.
In his spare time, Lindelani likes to play soccer in his community and read books that focus on business. His ambition is to be as successful as other prominent business moguls such as Patrice Motsepe.
Nomathemba – South Africa: Nomathemba is a small business owner who started her journey with Uber in 2014 when she wanted to expand her source of income. She was introduced to Uber by a driver who regularly bought clothing from her. During their discussions one day, she asked him what he did for a living and he told her about driving on the Uber app. At the time Nomathemba did not own a vehicle but managed to save her profits from selling clothing to purchase her own vehicle and kicked off her driving with the Uber app
According to Nomathemba, the flexibility of being a driver allows her to also take care of her business and be the boss of her schedule while receiving an extra income. She explains that nothing comes easy in life and that you need to work hard and prove yourself more than ever because you are a woman.
Nomathemba makes mention of Uber’s Women Preferred View feature and explains, “as a woman in South Africa safety has always been my main concern. The new feature puts the power in my hands and I can see the relief from my clients when they see that I am a woman driver, they too start to feel safer.’
Mavis – Ghana (pictured top): Mavis joined Uber after working for the now-defunct UT Bank for 13 years. She wanted to start her cooking business and also make enough money to support her family. Mavis explains, “It wasn’t an easy period but I had to look for another source of income immediately. I started cooking on a contract basis for events and cooking for individuals in their homes. After some time, I realised I couldn’t depend solely on that so the idea of using my vehicle for Uber came up.” She said most people were excited to ride with women as women were more careful in driving. “The compliments I receive from my customers are encouraging. Users of the app are able to rate the driver after the service. The highest rating is “five stars” and currently I have “4.86”, which is commendable,” she noted.
As we celebrate Entrepreneurship Day, Uber continues to uplift local residents with economic opportunities that will empower them and their lives.