Private investment arm of the World Bank Group to invest in Sri Lanka’s ride-hailing app, PickMe
The private investment arm of the World Bank Group, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has proposed an equity investment of US$ 3 million – US$ 4 million in Sri Lankan ride-hailing app Digital Mobility Solutions Lanka, more commonly known in the country as PickMe, the local media has reported.
PickMe currently provides a taxi hailing app-based service for five types of vehicles that are common in Sri Lanka – autorickshaw, nano car, mini car, sedan, and van – with operations focused on the Colombo area and Kandy.
IFC has reportedly said its proposed investment will support PickMe’s nationwide expansion plans. The company currently has around 20,000 registered freelancer drivers who are active on the network, have their own vehicles and are providing services on a revenue sharing basis.
According to reports, funded by Jiffry Zulfer Hassen, who is also the largest shareholder of the company, PickMe also provides premium transport services (VIP rides) for special occasions like weddings and seminars as well as to corporate clients, on top of its ride-hailing services.
Other shareholders in the company include Ajit Damon Gunewardene, Lanka Orix Information Technology Services Ltd, Interblocks Ltd, H Capital Ltd. and Ruchi Hubert Gunewardene.
According to IFC, its investment in PickMe will further provide the Sri Lankan public with convenient, reliable and affordable transportation.
“As there are limited attractive transportation options for Sri Lankan consumers, especially women who do not own their own vehicles, PickMe enables consumers to move around cities in a safe, convenient, reliable and affordable manner. A 2015 survey commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed that 90% of women in Sri Lanka have experienced sexual harassment on public transport, while only 4% sought help from the Police. As part of its safety and security measures, PickMe regularly checks that vehicles are adequately insured to carry passengers. The PickMe app also includes an SOS button that gives the rider an option of alerting the police in case of an emergency.”
“IFC will bring international expertise to support the company’s growth, including lessons learned from experience with similar businesses in other markets,” IFC has also noted.
The IFC’s latest investment in a Sri Lankan company will raise the profile of venture capital investing and digital entrepreneurship in the country. PickMe is one of the several companies that have received IFC assistance indicating the level of confidence the global Corporation has on the business potential in local companies. This would further expand the opportunities for other local companies to also seek financial assistance from the IFC to promote and expand their businesses.
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