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'Safr' way to Uber? New rideshare offers women rides from female drivers

After Boston, the rideshare program plans to open in Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City.
safr, safr ceo arrested
The CEO of Safr, a women-focused ride-hailing app, was arrested and is awaiting extradition to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo: File

With the spotlight on girl power burning brighter than it did since the Spice Girls, the focus is on more female-driven companies. Safr, an Uber-like company – is taking “female driven” literally.

Female drivers, offered “a new way of making a living without fear,” would be matched up with female passengers.

“Every time you ride with Safr, you are helping to empower a likeminded driver and support a charity that supports women, children, and/or families,” according to the company’s website.

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If a passenger wants to donate the portion of their fare to a specific charity, the company has a spot on its website to take suggestions.

“While the flexible schedule and added income would be a great option for many women, they have been reluctant to become ride-sharing drivers because of their concerns about safety,” said Stephanie Sonnabend, former CEO and president of Sonesta Hotels, co-founder of 2020 Women on Boards and Safr board member. “Safr wants to change the paradigm in ride-sharing with a platform of women driving women, creating a safe and empowering opportunity for all women.”

Safr plans to start its rideshare service next week in Boston, but it will be invite-only until it opens to all of the Boston area on March 1.

The rideshare program plans to open in Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City at later dates and is ofering its first 1,000 drivers a 10 percent company commission lock rate for life.

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The company was first launched last year as Chariot for Women, but new management has taken over. A New York City-based company developing the idea has to toe the line and heed anti-discrimination laws.

“Ideas that sound great — and this does sound great — have to meet the tests that are set forth in the law,” Joseph L. Sulman, a civil rights lawyer in Newton, told the Boston Globe. “If you replace the word ‘women’ with ‘white’ or ‘black,’ it reads very differently.”

Safr’s head of marketing told the Boston Globe that Safr is “mindful” of the issues and is working with its legal advisers “to make sure that we are in compliance with the laws.”

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