Egyptian bus-booking app Swvl is poised to beat Uber in Africa after raising $42m

Mildred Europa Taylor June 24, 2019
Cairo-based Swvl is is set to launch in Nigeria’s Lagos in July by first operating 50 buses. Pic credit: MENAbytes

In most cities in Africa, commuters are often faced with the difficulty of finding reliable, affordable and convenient public transport. In recent times, these commuters have had to choose between on-demand ride-hailing app services that are costly and cheaper public transportation options that are seen to be less reliable and inconvenient.

In Cairo, the sprawling capital of Egypt, the situation is no different as people tend to look for transport options that are cheaper than taxis but more convenient than public buses, which are viewed as unreliable and dangerous, reports Bloomberg.

In 2017, Swvl, a Cairo-based app for booking buses, stepped in to fill this gap by providing an alternative that is cheaper, more convenient, and reliable than public transportation.

Just two years after emerging into the Egyptian transportation startup scene, the company has carved a niche for itself, despite stiff competition from other top ride-hailing apps like Uber and Careem.

Having started in Cairo and currently operating in Alexandria and Nairobi in Kenya, the app, which carries hundreds of thousands of customers each month, is looking to expand into other parts of Africa, including Nigeria, and has raised $42 million towards that.

The company got the money from venture-capital firms, including Sweden’s Vostok, Dubai-based BECO Capital, China’s MSA and Endeavor Catalyst, based in New York, reports Bloomberg.

“The plan is to be in at least two or three more African cities by the end of the year,’’ Mostafa Kandil, the 26-year-old co-founder and chief executive officer, told Bloomberg.

“Lagos, Nigeria, is most likely the next market.’’

Launching in 2017, Swvl startup connects commuters with private buses, allowing them to reserve seats on these buses and pay the fare through the company’s mobile app.

“The buses available on Swvl operate on fixed routes (or lines). Swvl does not own the buses or employs the drivers but has signed different partnerships to help drivers and operators with financing of the vehicles,” according to a report by menabytes.

The Egyptian startup recently collaborated with Ford, the U.S. automotive giant, to provide them with Ford Transit minibuses to enable its operators to use them as the preferred vehicle of choice.

Swvl, which is set to launch in Nigeria’s Lagos in July by first operating 50 buses, disclosed in 2018 plans to expand further to countries, including Thailand and Vietnam. It further aims to operate in seven mega-cities by the end of this year.

The company, within two years of existence, has grown tremendously from doing tens of bookings a month to hundreds of thousands of rides a month, a report by Forbes said. This is in spite of competition from Uber and Careem, both of which launched bus-booking services in Cairo last year.

In 2018, Swvl, which taps into the middle class and upper middle class, was valued at nearly $100 million, becoming the second Egyptian company after Fawry to reach these figures, said menabytes.

Last Edited by:Victor Ativie Updated: June 2, 2020


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