‘I took up dispatch riding because I have always been self-motivated’
Determined to make a meaningful living out of her life, 28-year old Gift Preye Solomon, has been celebrated as the first female delivery rider in the entire Emirates in the Gulf region. An indigene of Ondo state, Ese Udo Local Government, Solomon who is from a lowly family of eight dropped out of school in her 200 level at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) due to financial crises. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her passion for earning a living as a dispatch rider.
Share with us your growing up and how it has shaped you?
I was not born into a rich family, my parents struggled to make sure we have food on our table and made sure we got the necessary things while growing up.
I have a degree in Multimedia Networking from NIIT Benin. I started my Bsc at NOUN, but unfortunately I had to drop out when I was in my 200 level due to financial challenges. It all stated in the year 2015, a year after I dropped out of school due to financial difficulties, I wasn’t in a good place and I really wanted to help my parents, they have always been there for me and my siblings, making sure we got everything we needed as a child until things started going bad for their business, I had to do what was needed, looking back now I don’t regret my decision at all. And yes! I intend to go back to school and get my BSc by the grace of God.
When did you start biking and how did you develop passion for biking?
I have been working with a delivery company for about six years, but about two years ago I became a delivery rider, working closely with over 40 delivery male riders and seeing how they do their jobs with so much happiness and honesty made me started liking the idea. I remember before I got the bike license, I would deliver pizzas by walking and I see the response customers give me made me start loving the job. So, when the opportunity came I quickly jumped on it. My experience has been amazing, I get a lot of positive feedback from people who see me, it makes me happy that I can put a smile on people’s faces. People see me on the road and stare at me, sometimes they say hello and say, ‘Please, drive carefully’. I am pleased to know that people really care and appreciate what I do.
How did you find yourself in the delivery business in the UAE?
I got to the UAE about six years ago; my journey has been from a customer service representative in the year 2016 to an assistant manager and then I took a huge turn to become a delivery rider in March 2019. It’s been an amazing journey and I am very thankful to God for giving me the grace to choose this path. It started when we had a town hall meeting and our CEO was talking about how we are growing and how the delivery business is moving on and then he said, ‘we are open to ladies that wants to be a rider’ and without thinking, I stood up and said I wanted to be a delivery rider, everyone was looking at me and I just went for it.
What was your first experience like as a delivery rider and being a female?
In my first trip, I got to the door, I greeted the guy that came to open the door and open my bag to give him his pizza and the next thing he did was to open the door completely and all his friends saw me and were laughing out loud. For a minute I was shy but eventually I owned up to it and delivered and left.
Did you ever feel different knowing there were no women in the field at the time?
Honestly, sometimes I do feel different, because I get different kinds of reception from different people but it kept on getting better.
Overtime what kept you going on the job?
I always remember where I came from, and I know I have a family who is depending on me, so, whenever I feel like give up, I just remember the reason I left home in the first place.
For you, what has people’s perception been, especially seeing that it is a female bringing their delivery?
Honestly most customers find it facilitating and always smile when they open the door but some people and friends find it strange, some people still think it’s inappropriate, why should I care about my looks to do a job? I mean where was my ‘looks’ when I searched for a job for months without any? Where was it when I cry most night before going to bed for a job? I have always being a self motivated person, and it wasn’t like I started working as a delivery rider, I worked as a customer care representative for two years before I was promoted to a supervisor and then to an assistant manager, before I decided to be a delivery rider after years of working with some amazing male delivery riders.
Do you feel fulfilled in your job?
Yes! I am very fulfilled in what I do, I am not just breaking stereotypes, I have an opportunity to be a part of people’s day and share a smile with them even if it’s for a minute and I am able to support my family and plan for my future.
How did your family take your decision to settle for this job?
Honestly speaking, for a long time I couldn’t tell my family about my job, because they will be super scared and I wasn’t sure of my mum’s reaction, so, I waited for my story to be out and I shared it with them. I can still remember my mum’s question, ‘so Gift dey ride Okada for Dubai?’, but eventually everyone was fine when they started seeing I was celebrated all over.
What is your advice to young ladies seeking to earn a living from male-dominated jobs?
I feel that as women, we limit ourselves too much and it’s starting to feel normal to people that there are certain things/ jobs a woman can’t do or take, which shouldn’t be like that, there are women who feel the same way I feel but don’t have the opportunity I have now, so this is a wake up call for us all. If Gift can do it, you can do it too. I am not saying all women should start riding; all I am saying is just do whatever makes you happy without caring about your gender. It doesn’t have to make sense as long as you are happy.