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Women-only rideshare Shebah is raising $3 million – and women are investing

Shebah founder George McEncroe. (Image: supplied)
  • Shebah is an Australian women-only rideshare service.
  • Demand has exploded in its first two years.
  • The company is seeking $3 million to expand.

Australian women-only rideshare business Shebah has kicked off a $3 million investment round through equity crowdfunding.

This means that ordinary folks can now buy a little slice of the Melbourne startup to provide cash for it to expand to the next level.

Shebah started operating on International Women’s Day in 2017 with a system of ridesharing cars – like Uber – but with exclusively female drivers picking up female and underage passengers.

Founder George McEncroe used her own cash from selling her home to get the business started after hearing stories about women and girls being harrassed in taxis and rideshare services.

Shebah’s drivers must pass Working with Children checks and can access training on superannuation, GST management and insurance.

“A lot of people still don’t seem to understand what it’s like for women to travel in other rideshares or taxis and feel the kind of fear a man would never feel,” said McEncroe.

“If women are coming home late, they don’t know the city they’re in very well, or have had a few drinks, they still have the right to get home safely and without feeling dread or fear.”

Hot demand

Since launch, the passenger population has grown 190 per cent year-on-year and the network has expanded from Melbourne to Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Adelaide and Perth – while driver recruitment is now taking place in Darwin.

The growth has prompted the company to seek new funds for further scaling through the equity crowdfunding model, which allows everyday investors to chip in small amounts for a micro-level ownership of the business.

If Shebah continues its success, then so do the value of each of the small slices of the ownership.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 929 investors had already joined the crowdfunding round to raise $958,952 for the business, and the company says 95 per cent of those people are women.

The company stated it would use the funds to expand its geographical reach in Australia, explore launching in New Zealand and to improve its existing system with new features and fixes.

Why should women sit in the back?

McEncroe said the crowdfunding would also act as confirmation of the demand for a female-only ridesharing service.

“All police safety advisements suggest women should sit in the back seat for their safety. But why should we have to? We’re adult women,” she said.

“Children sit in the back seat and I’m not a child. We should be able to sit anywhere we like and feel completely safe.”

While the platform is heading towards 3,000 drivers in Australia, passenger demand still far outnumbers the number of cars roaming around – meaning McEncroe herself has often hit the road to help with supply.

“My hope is that the proving demand for a women-only ride-sharing service will encourage the taxi and rideshare industry to improve safety for all drivers and passengers, all genders.”

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