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Women-drivers-only rideshare app doubles in popularity

Business

The CEO of Australia’s first women-drivers-only rideshare app Shebah says the service has more than doubled in popularity in Adelaide since it launched here in 2018.

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Shebah is the first Australian rideshare service with exclusively female drivers, catering exclusively to women and children passengers.

The only exception is that adult men can ride as passengers in a Shebah if they are accompanying a child in a child seat, or both a child in a child seat and a woman.

Shebah founder and CEO George McEncroe – a former ABC radio presenter and comedian – launched the Shebah app in Australia on International Women’s Day in 2017.

It was made available to Adelaide commuters the following year.

Since then, McEncroe told InDaily, the business has experienced 211 per cent growth in the South Australian market – and there aren’t nearly enough drivers to meet demand.

“It’s growing well everywhere, but it’s really noticeable in Adelaide,” said McEncroe, adding that although she was unable to give specific figures on customer numbers for commercial-in-confidence reasons, Adelaide passengers numbered in the “thousands”.

There were currently 70 Shebah drivers in Adelaide, and the platform is looking to recruit an extra 150.

According to McEncroe, one of the key reasons for Shebah’s popularity was the enduring problem of school pickup for parents with full-time jobs.

“Parents are stuck with the perennial issue (that) school finishes at 3:30pm and work finishes at 5pm,” she said.

“There are very few people that I know of that can afford only one parent working (while) kids are in school.”

The app allows users to select a particular driver and to book her, up to one month in advance.

“If you’ve got a kid, you don’t want some random turning up,” said McEncroe.

Another key demographic for the rideshare service was teenage girls and young women looking for a safe way to travel home after a night out.

All Shebah drivers must pass a Police Check and a Working With Children Check, and they must undertake a car safety check before picking anyone up.

The average age of a Shebah driver, according to McEncroe, is 46.

All drivers are also given training in car seat installation for young children and infants and the app limits drivers to a maximum eight-hour shift.

Liz Gray became one of Shebah’s first drivers in Adelaide after she left a corporate role to become a mother of two children.

“I invested my long service leave from my previous job straight into the business,” she said.

“Shebah for me is a way of paying it forward by helping other women and their kids needing a safe way of getting around the city.

“I feel really connected, especially to my regular drivers and get so much enjoyment listening to stories and knowing I’m helping them get through their day.”

McEncroe said that while Shebah is currently unavailable outside the metropolitan area in South Australia, the company plans to expand it into other parts of the state, including McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley, to service day-trippers to the state’s wine regions.

Shebah is available on Android and Apple devices.

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