George McEncroe is the founder and CEO of Shebah, Australia’s only rideshare service where all the drivers are women. Shebah gets women and children where they need to go, providing a safer way to travel.
George is a comedian and single mother of four who founded Shebah for two reasons: she wanted to keep women and children safe, and she wanted to give women like herself – mums with multiple obligations – a safe way to share in the advantages offered by the rideshare industry.
George began her career in media and comedy in her thirties, and was nominated for best newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and hosted the breakfast show on commercial radio for five years. However, George is most proud of her business venture Shebah, and over the past twelve months has regularly spoken at parliamentary enquiries and met with various transport ministers to plead for a safe, legal rideshare service built from the female lens.
Shebah, which has now completed over 18,000 trips and accredited over 850 drivers since its launch in 2017.
George’s idea for Shebah came about when her daughter turned eighteen, when she and her friends started having some shocking experiences in Taxis and ride-sharing services.
“We are constantly teaching women to protect themselves, to sit in the back of a taxi, not to share their exact address, to text a friend when they arrive home. I felt that women should have the option to get in a car with another woman, that we shouldn’t have to constantly protect ourselves and be blamed when things go wrong,” George said.
Wanting to create a safe space for people with disabilities, trans women and children to travel, George notes the creation of Shebah as her proudest moment.
“The feeling when the very first women got picked up in a Shebah ride was unimaginable. I’m so proud of how much further the app has gone than I ever thought possible,” George said.
“People email me and tell me about how they now have reliable transport for a loved one with a disability, or how it has made a complicated divorce easier by having a safe way for their kids to travel from one house to another. There have been so many ways that Shebah is being utilised that I never imagined, and I’m so proud to be the creator of it.”
The driving force behind George’s success is the notion that “women should be able to step out on an equal footing with men, feel at peace in the world and let our shoulders drop.”
“What drives me is creating a sense of calm for women and a strong sense of freedom. I’m so motivated by all the amazing people I’m surrounded by, from the staff at Shebah to our drivers, passengers and the business itself, this is what keeps me going,” she said.
The biggest lesson that George has learned throughout her business venture and throughout life is to “always trust your gut instinct and always have a crack.”
“I learned from my time as a comedian that there’s nothing worse than holding back and not going out there and just having a go. I learned from my time on radio that you need to trust your instinct, because if you feel a certain way then you will always find others that do too,” she said.
“I never thought I would be the creator of an all-female ride-sharing app, but once I realised that the demand was really there and others felt the same as me, I knew I had to have a go or I would always regret it.”