Egyptian start-up raises $42mln set to expand into Africa, create jobs

Egypt's infamous traffic costs the country $6.5 billion annually

A traffic jam is pictured in old Cairo.

A traffic jam is pictured in old Cairo.

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Swvl, an app-based mass transportation platform developed in Egypt has raised $42 million in Series B2 funding, as it plans to expand its operations into Africa.

The app was initially developed by Mostafa Kandil and his friends in 2017 to reduce the chaotic traffic jams in Cairo.

Venture-capital firms including Sweden’s Vostok, Dubai-based BECO Capital, China’s MSA, New York-based Endeavor Catalyst, Palo Alto-based Autotech, and Oman technology fund helped Swvl raise $42 million.

"We see a huge opportunity in Africa and we are planning to launch our services across the continent. This year we will start in at least two to three countries. Also, we will expand aggressively in Egypt in the next three months, by focusing on increasing users by adding more buses, timings," Mostafa told Zawya.

In 2017, Mostafa and two of his school friends, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh, quit their jobs and gathered at public parks, where they spent their time developing a service that they named Swvl. The transportation app can book bus trips at rates that are close to 80 per cent cheaper than other ride-hailing services like Careem and Uber. Passengers can make reservations and pay their fare through Swvl, which uses the passengers’ location and destination to find the shortest possible journey based on the nearest bus station.

Swvl currently operates in Alexandria and Nairobi in Kenya. It has close to 320 employees and will be creating more jobs as well.

"This year we will expand our team aggressively and will have a team of around 500 employees by end of the year," Mostafa said.

Swvl is now competing with Uber and Careem who have both launched bus services in Cairo last year. The three firms are tapping the increasing demand among the city's 20 million people for options that are more convenient than public buses.

Egypt's infamous traffic costs the country $6.5 billion annually, and that figure is expected to reach $14.6 billion by 2030, according to the World Bank.

Swvl had previously raised $8 million Series A investment in April last year and prior to that $500,000 from Middle East–based ride-hailing unicorn Careem.

(Writing by Seban Scaria., editing by Daniel Luiz)

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© ZAWYA 2019

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