Muslim sisters run women taxi service in Hyderabad

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The idea only came into existence following an unpleasant auto rickshaw experience, aimed at ensuring women feel safe and secure during their journey…writes Mohammad Modassir Ashrafi (The Author is Research Scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia)

Hyderabad is a modern but conservative city, like most Indian cities. However, youths in the city are breaking social barriers to set new standards. One of such youths is Nikhat Zareen, the young boxer, who has beaten poverty and patriarchy to emerge as a gold medallist in the coveted Commonwealth Games. Taking this courage to a step ahead are siblings Uzma Khatoon and Zainab Khatoon who have introduced bike taxis, pleasingly named Dovely run by women riders to carry women from corner to another in the city.

Sisters due has also launched the Dovely app to professionally run their taxi service. The Dovely app provides a bike taxi service exclusively run by and for women. According to the Khatoon sisters, the purpose of their entrepreneurship is to address the safety of women while travelling, especially the women patients. Plus, they want to make women independent while deciding their professions.

Khatoon sisters have roped in two other youths to their team. The four-person run application comprises founder Zainab who is a final year B. Pharmacy student, Uzma, a final year B.com Computers student, and Masarrath Fatima and Obaidulla Khan who are final year B. Tech students.

Speaking to a Hyderabad-based portal, the founder and CEO of Dovely, Zainab Khatoon said, “The idea to create Dovely first struck me and originated from a conversation between me and my mom, who wanted to visit my granny and was looking for cost-effective and safe rides.”

The idea only came into existence following an unpleasant auto rickshaw experience, aimed at ensuring women feel safe and secure during their journey.

“The idea struck me once again while I was travelling with my friend in an autorickshaw when the driver looked at us from the rear view mirror making me feel uncomfortable,” Zainab added.

“We sat down with our parents to discuss the name of the company. After going through about 400 names, our father came up with the name Dovely,” said Chief Operating Officer and co-founder Uzma.

“Apart from providing rides for women, the app also allows women to connect with us as Dovely partners. To access information regarding the platform one may visit the Dovely website,” Zainab said.

Till now, the Dovely has completed more than 100 rides to various locations in Hyderabad. More than 20 riders have registered themselves and provided their services through Dovely.

She added that since the service is in its initial stages, all the earnings from the rides are being kept by the riders themselves. “We are not getting any commission,” she said.

With regards to the credibility of the riders, Zainab said, “I personally handle the onboarding process for Dovely. As part of the hiring process we ourselves take long distance rides with the candidates to test their driving skills.”

Shedding light on the steps taken to ensure the safety of the riders and passengers, Uzma said, “One of us is constantly checking on the live location from the beginning to the end of the ride, and the riders are only supposed to switch off the live location after completing the ride.”

Nahera Lohreen, one of the bike riders who worked with Dovely, told a local daily, “The first ride was a bit challenging since I was hesitant as to how it would go, but after a while, I felt comfortable and it has been a great experience.”

Nahera is the first bike rider to be roped in by Dovely.

Zareena Begum, another bike rider with the firm, said, “It is a great opportunity since it gives us financial independence and I was looking forward to such an opportunity. It’s been thrilling to ride my bike as a professional rider and take somebody to a destination safely and earn money for it.”

Speaking of future plans, Zainab said, “As of now we are focusing on a minimum of 10 rides per day, we will gradually expand into three and four-wheeler markets.”

She added that her sister and other team members have been able to make girls ride their scooties and bikes as professional taxi drivers in conservative Hyderabad and it’s been more satisfying than earning money.

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