CAIRO: Egyptian transport technology start-up Swvl will expand into two more cities in Pakistan — Islamabad and Rawalpindi — in the next two weeks, according to its chief executive.
The international firm operates buses along fixed routes and allows customers to reserve and pay for them using an app, its co-founder and CEO Mostafa Kandil said.
According to him, the company is also opening an engineering office in Karachi to have a full-fledged engineering team based out of there and is currently recruiting for multiple engineering positions, including head of engineering.
The announcement comes less than two months after Swvl expanded to Pakistan with its launch in Lahore. Pakistan is the second international market for Swvl that expanded to Kenya earlier this year.
Mr Kandil has reportedly said that the firm will enter Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, before the end of the year, and its eyes are on Dar es Salaam and Abidjan. It is also planning to launch in other South East Asian markets, he added.
Founded in 2017, Swvl is seeking to raise more than $100 million in a financing round in the first half of next year, and is targeting a $1 billion valuation in the next five years. It has secured the biggest round of funding for a tech start-up in Egypt.
“We were a company worth about $2 million two years ago and our paid-up capital is now $80 million,” Mr Kandil said. He expressed the hope that Swvl would eventually go public, but did not say on which stock exchange. He said he would in the longer term also consider a buyout offer from the likes of ride-hailing giant Uber.
Mr Kandil, 25, said the company has been losing money, but expects to turn a profit in two to three years.
“This year we have entered about seven new cities and next year we are targeting another 10 to 20 new big cities,” he said.
The Cairo-based firm, which is due to move its headquarters to Dubai in November, launched in Nairobi about six months ago and began operations in Lahore in July.
“We aim to reach one million trips a day in Egypt over the next five years,” said Mr Kandil.
He and two other young Egyptian co-founders, Mahmoud Nouh and Ahmed Sabbah, own more than 30 per cent of the company, he said.
The rest is held by 17 investment funds, including US-based Autotech Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Oman’s sovereign wealth fund, the UAE’s BECO Capital and China’s MSA Capital.
The Swvl app, which has fixed bus routes, uses the passenger’s location and destination to determine the shortest possible trip time based on the nearest bus stop.
Uber and regional competitor Careem began operating their own bus services in Egypt in late 2018, competing directly with Swvl.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2019