Egyptian bus app Swvl raises $42 million for African expansion

Investors include Dubai-based Beco Capital, US-based Endeavor Catalyst, China's MSA and Egypt's Sawari Ventures

The Cairo skyline. Egypt received a $639 million credit facility from the Arab Monetary Fund. Reuters
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Egypt's bus transportation app Swvl has raised $42 million (Dh154m) to expand to other African countries, including Nigeria.

Started two years ago in Cairo, the company also operates in Alexandria and Nairobi, Kenya.

“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 founder and chief executive, told Bloomberg by phone from Cairo. “Lagos, Nigeria, is most likely the next market.’’

The series C round investors include Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China's MSA, Egypt's Sawari Ventures and UAE real estate portal Property Finder chief executive Michael Lahyani, among others.

"We have followed Swvl from its inception and the team has done an amazing job executing their business plan," Ahmed El Alfi, chairman of Sawari Ventures, told The National. "We anticipate greater things for the company going forward and will be very supportive as the only Egyptian VC investor."

Swvl has raised close to $80 million so far, making it one of the region's best-funded start-ups. Mr Kandil, who previously worked for Careem as a "market launcher," started Swvl along with Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh in early 2017. In July 2017, Careem invested $500,000 in the venture.

Swvl allows commuters to reserve seats on private buses operating on fixed routes and pay fares through its mobile app. Now the transport start-up is facing competition from Uber and Careem, who both started a bus service in Cairo last year. After Careem was acquired by Uber this year, Careem Bus expanded to Alexandria and Saudi Arabia.

There is growing demand for transport options that are cheaper than taxis, but more convenient than public buses. Mr Kandil said Swvl carries hundreds of thousands of customers each month.

“We tap into the middle class and upper middle class, a segment that public buses in emerging markets don’t really serve,’’ Mr Kandil told Bloomberg.

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