DriveHer, an Uber-like taxi service, could hit the road this summer
Aisha Addo’s business idea would operate like Uber but with only female drivers and passengers
Giving new meaning to the term "no boys allowed," a Toronto woman hopes to launch a new women's-only ride-sharing service later this summer.
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DriveHer would function much like Uber, but with one major difference. Only female drivers could work for the company, and they could only pick up female passengers.
The idea is the brainchild of Aisha Addo, who has had experience feeling uncomfortable in cabs.
"The driver was asking me a lot of uncomfortable questions," Addo told CBC News late last week of one late-night taxi experience.
"I ended up having to call one of my friends to avoid the uncomfortable questioning."
The experience made her realize that there is demand for a company like DriveHer.
"It made me realize that not only is there actually a need for something like this, but then I had to call someone out of their sleep in order for them to stay up with me," she said.
"How about the other girls who have no one to call when situations like that happen and they have to endure?"
Addo has discussed her idea with other women at business events, and says it has received a lot of support.
Jennifer McIlroy, a Toronto teacher Addo stopped on the street to talk about her business, said she would "absolutely" support the service.
"As soon as you say, 'Started by women for women,' just an automatic safety issue there for me is resolved and served right on a silver platter," McIlroy told CBC News.
"There's a message of empowerment of women at the wheel," she added. "So symbolically I like that."
'Creating an option'
Addo hopes the business concept has two positive outcomes: to empower female businesswomen, and to help women feel safe.
Sajid Mughal, president of the iTaxi Workers Association of Ontario, said he supports the idea as long as the drivers are properly licensed and insured.
However, taxi-industry veteran Krishna Pillai, who has been driving for 25 years, said there's no need for such a service.
"Leave this business as it is. Ask this lady to invest this money and time for something else," Pillai said, adding that women have been riding as passengers with male drivers for a long time.
"So now tomorrow are we going to declare that we only pick up male passengers?" Eillai asked. "Do you want that in the city? This is not the right thing. Absolutely this is not the right thing."
Addo said she does not want to segregate the taxi industry. She wants women to feel safe in any type of taxi.
"I do wish that could happen, but that's not the option that has been given to women," Addo said. "So it's creating an option."
Addo still has much work ahead of her, including bringing her business in line with the city's new licensing system —including paying the $20,000 licensing application fee — getting police checks for her drivers and ensuring drivers have the required $2 million in insurance.
Still, she hopes to have drivers on the roads by August.