Calling her Superwoman-or should we say Überwoman-is an understatement.
Before starting her career as an Uber driver, Nkechi Toluwani Abiola was a fashion designer who divided her time between making outfits and being a single mother to six children. She believed this was the best job for her at the time because it gave her the freedom to make a living and still be very present in the lives of her kids. As her children grew more independent, she decided to go back to school and get her NCE. She had dreams of opening a fashion design school after this degree but destiny had different plans for her. In 2017, she decided to make a living out of her lifelong passion by becoming an Uber driver.
Being a woman in a male-dominated field is never easy, but Nkechi has travelled down that rocky road with the determination and skill of a seasoned motorist. She has taken it upon herself to create a space for women in an industry where there was none by founding the Ladies On Wheels Association of Nigeria(LOWAN). In a tell-all interview with Shecluded, Nkechi recounts her journey as an Uber driver, which started from a deep passion for being behind the wheel.
I’ve always loved driving, everyone close to me can attest to this. Even when I didn’t have a car I always used to volunteer to drive any available car at church. If someone needed to move a car in my neighbourhood and no one was available to do it, I always volunteered. So driving for me is inborn.
I have a strong passion for it. I don’t get tired of driving and I have so much fun doing it. It was this passion I have for driving that got me into driving on Uber. I got to know about Uber in 2017. I thought it would be cool to do what I love and make extra cash at the same time so I took my time to find out about the necessary requirements, and within two months I was all set to take my first ride on Uber. It was a memorable day for me. Without any prior knowledge in commercial driving I decided to take the bull by the horns, and today I have no regrets.
What is it like, being a female Uber driver?
Becoming a female Uber driver is the best decision I ever made. An essential part of a happy healthy life is being of service to others, and that is what I do every day. It fulfills me, and I’m also happy I can put food on the table without devaluing my self-worth. I found myself in a male dominated industry but I am not intimidated by that-rather I see a future for all female drivers who are striving to make a living driving.
What are some the challenges that come with being a woman in the E-hailing industry, and how do you handle them?
At first it was difficult for me-and women like me-to be accepted into this field by our male counterparts. They frowned at the fact that we were women driving Uber, making fun of us and sometimes ignoring our questions on the group we all belonged to. This attitude from male drivers is one of the reasons I decided to create a different female group for Uber ladies, which has evolved into a Registered Association (LOWAN). We also face another challenge of rejection from both male and female riders. Some men just won’t have a woman as their driver because they are not comfortable with the idea. There are other challenges we face out there but at the end of the day, all professions have their challenges. So we face each one squarely and overcome them.
LADIES ON WHEELS
Can you tell us more about LOWAN and how it came to be?
LOWAN came into existence as a collective effort of all the Ladies. It is an E-hailing association which comprises only women who are into commercial driving on the Uber, Bolt and other E-hailing platforms. Our main vision is to help empower as many ladies in this line of business as possible. Our aims and objectives are to bring up women and ladies that can help their families by supporting their husbands and children. By doing so we hope that thousands of ladies on the road can take up a more viable job under the Association of Ladies on wheels.
What is it like, belonging to such a community?
LOWAN is not just a female driver Association that focuses on driving. We have a deep mutual connection that makes us relate as sisters, and we growing stronger and more united by the day. Whenever we meet new ladies out there we invite them to join the community. We are also joining hands with the government to ensure peace and stability in our country by showing our support in kicking against human trafficking, child abuse and child labor. We also run campaigns against communicable diseases, community development services etc.
ON THE ROAD
Have you had any memorable experiences while driving a passenger? If you have, do you mind sharing?
I’ve had so many memorable experiences while driving. I have some riders that are now my business partners, I have some who look up to me for mentorship, I have some who have practically gone out of their way to give me gift items of all kinds, because they want to encourage me or appreciate me for services rendered. These are beautiful moments for me.
Is there money in the profession?
Yes, there’s money in the profession. We go out in the morning to work and come back home after work just like every other professional worker does, and with a good work plan and dedication, we make good money. You will definitely make good money as well, as long as your car is in good shape and you are ready to face the day’s work. When you wake up in the morning just dress up, look smart, and then go out and make your cool cash-with prayers of course!
Do you have any dreams of starting your own cab service, like Uber or Bolt?
Yes, I have big plans on my mind. One of them is of course the possibility of starting something big in the E-hailing industry. I don’t want to talk about it yet but trust me I have a great plan, and very soon it will materialize.
What do you enjoy/love most about being an uber driver?
I love the fact that I am a female Uber Driver, driving and making it in a male-dominated industry. Also I love the fact that I get to meet different types of people every day. I also love the fact that as an Uber driver I control my own time. I work when I want to and when I don’t feel like working I am not under any kind of pressure to do so. Finally and most importantly, I love the fact that as an Uber driver I can be of service to others…it gives me great fulfillment.
What tips or encouragement do you have for women thinking of becoming Uber drivers?
I’ve met so many ladies who are interested in becoming uber drivers. Some don’t know how to drive very well, some are afraid that they might find it difficult getting locations, some don’t even have cars to start with. My advice to women facing these challenges is to get better at it. Go to a good driving school and get better. Learn the rules of driving and build your self-confidence. To those whose challenge is how to get cars on rentals or hire-purchase, LOWAN has a number of ways we can help you in this area. Most importantly, develop a deep passion for driving, and don’t limit yourself. My final word of encouragement is to simply go for it. Don’t allow anything to discourage you. Set your eyes on the goal, and you will succeed.
To learn more about LOWAN or join the community, visit https://instagram.com/ladiesonwheels_?utm_medium=copy_link