Women’s Day: Meet Mahalakshmi, the only female Ola outstation driver in Bengaluru
At ride-hailing startup Ola, only a few hand-picked driver-partners who have earned excellent ratings from customers get nominated to drive theoutstation routes -- Bengaluru-based Mahalakshmi is one of them.
From working as a domestic help at the age of 14 to becoming the only female Ola outstation driver-partner from Bengaluru, Mahalakshmi’s story is nothing short of inspiring.
Mahalakshmi, the only female Ola outstation driver-partner from Bengaluru
From a young age, Mahalakshmi, who has studied until Grade 10, was determined to stand on her own two feet and support her family. However, she struggled for a long time to secure a job, but never gave up. In the end, to be self-sufficient and help her family, she began working as a domestic help for a family in Bengaluru.
With the support and encouragement of the family, she learned how to drive and went on to become the family’s chauffeur. As luck would have it, Mahalakshmi came across an Ola advertisement about the company hiring female driver-partners.
“I had never imagined that I would someday drive a cab, but when the opportunity arose, I didn’t hesitate to make the shift. When I came across an Ola advertisement about the company hiring female driver-partners I realised it was my chance to become truly independent,” says Mahalakshmi, who registered with Ola with the help of the family that she worked for at the time.
Since then, there’s been no looking back for Mahalakshmi.
Today, it has been over five years since she has been working as a full-time Ola driver-partner and simultaneously managing her household and her two children. Her job demands working long hours, staying away from home, catering to the customer and ensuring that their travel needs are met.
“My family has remained by my side throughout and continues to root for my success. With their support, the transition was easy and it has been a fulfilling journey so far,” she adds.
Her work as an Ola driver-partner has not only taken her to several places in and around Bengaluru, but also to cities including Chennai, Mysore, and Goa, her favourite destination, so far. As the only female Ola outstation driver-partner in Bengaluru, Mahalakshmi feels a great sense of pride in covering the lay of the land and exploring places like Goa and Mysore with her customers.
She says that driving on these routes has brought out the wanderlust in her.
Mahalakshmi has also observed that being a female driver makes her customers feel safer, particularly when she picks them up at night. She also emphasises on how she strives to make her female customers feel safe, until they reach their destination.
Journey as Ola driver-partner
It has been five years since her first drive, and today, she feels like any other entrepreneur, taking great pride in being her own boss and deciding her own work hours.
“I take pride in the work that I do and that I am able to provide for my family. After joining the Ola platform, I have become my own boss and my income has significantly increased. At the end of the day, I believe society respects hard work,” says Mahalakshmi.
This financial independence has also afforded the opportunity to educate both her children in ICSE schools, which Mahalakshmi considers as her biggest achievement. The fact that she has today achieved a somewhat celebrity status among friends and customers is something she feels grateful for.
“At times, I feel like a celebrity when I receive praise for my driving from customers, sometimes they ask me for a selfie at the end of a ride. My children especially, who have closely seen my journey, proudly tell their friends and teachers that their mother drives Ola cab for a living - this motivates me to do more everyday,” she says.
Indeed, Mahalakshmi’s determination to become self-sufficient from a fairly young age, doing a job dominated by men is a testament to her commitment and resilience to succeed.
Today, she is an inspiration to many in her community and to her customers, who are quick to ask her about her transition to becoming an Ola driver-partner and about how she manages this work along with her household duties.
“Many young girls come up to me and tell me I inspire them. My story shows that no matter what your background is, you have the power to follow your dreams and create a better life for yourself. I advise young girls to think big, stay determined and stick to the path they choose.”