Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Has Arrived

For transforming transportation with a ride-sharing platform built to be safe, eco-friendly and affordable

When her sister was robbed on public transportation on the way to work in Lagos, Damilola Olokesusi set out to reinvent mobility—in Nigeria and beyond.

The city’s public transit system serves roughly 12 million passengers a day—a number that is expected to climb in tandem with the city’s surging population. To create a safer, more comfortable alternative, Olokesusi cofounded the ride-sharing platform Shuttlers. By partnering with local companies (many of which shoulder part of the cost for their employees to use the service), Shuttlers is able to offer rides at just a fraction of the cost of other ride-sharing services. 

Olokesusi’s innovative leadership has built demand from the ground up. When the service launched in 2017, she relied on email and messaging services to engage with customers. By 2019, she’d introduced an app that allowed riders to book a seat on one of the fixed-route buses. Now the service has expanded to a second city, Abuja, and generated a combined 786,945 rides in 2021.

She’s also driven to ensure her work aligns with U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 11, for sustainable cities and communities. "This not only reduces the daily commuting stress, but it also reduces traffic congestion and carbon emissions within the city," she says. "With one bus, we can remove about 14 to 29 cars from the road."

Olokesusi is expanding the positive social impact to elevate women, too. Shuttlers’ She-Moves initiative, co-sponsored by Ford Motor Co., is a shuttle service for women taking coursework during their commutes, so they can build tech, financial and people skills. 

And while securing US$1.6 million from investors has helped accelerate plans to expand the service to other cities in Africa, the funding splash also validated her status as an influential female project leader: Roughly half of the money raised came from female investors and limited partners.