A non-profit taxi company in Winnipeg, Man., is operating with one goal in mind: providing women and children with safe transportation by a female driver. But with a growing interest and soaring demand, the donation-based service is struggling to keep up.

The driver shortage has limited Ikwe Safe Rides to responding to 25-35 per cent of all ride requests, according to co-director and volunteer driver Christine Brouzes.

"We can’t pick and choose through the ride requests to see which ones are most in need. We want to answer them all," Brouzes told CTV Winnipeg. 

"It may be a simple request for a mother trying to get home with her groceries, or a young lady that’s getting home from a social, but they both need to be kept safe – be that emotionally and/or physically safe."

The taxi service was created with the hope of keeping women safe from inappropriate or uncomfortable situations in taxis, Brouzes added. The service accepts ride requests posted in its private Facebook group, which currently has a growing membership of more than 15,000 riders.

Lisa Hodgins, a regular user of Ikwe Safe Rides, told CTV Winnipeg that the service’s team of female drivers feels like family.

"It’s not going in there and [feeling] not sure who you’re sitting next to. I feel like I know them, they’re like my sisters," Hodgins said. "We all love it. And every time I'm with other women and we go anywhere, it's like, 'Let’s take Ikwe.' We don't even bother with a cab anymore."

Ikwe Safe Rides is currently made up of more than 40 volunteer drivers. Users are asked to make a suggested donation of $10 for a 15-minute ride.

The non-profit welcomed two new drivers at a recent training session, but Brouzes said her team needs at least 20 more drivers to meet the current demand.

Women aged 18 or older are eligible to volunteer if they have a full driver’s licence and a registered vehicle. Volunteers must also pass a child abuse registry check and attend a training session.

With a report from CTV Winnipeg