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Egypt bus-app Swvl raises $42m for African expansion

The company’s CEO is aiming to expand in at least two or three more African cities by the end of the year.
Bus-booking app, Swvl is looking to offer an efficient transport service, which is cheaper than taxis and more convenient than buses, to the 20m people in Cairo. Picture: Shawn Baldwin, Bloomberg

Swvl, an Egyptian app for booking buses, has raised $42 million as it looks to expand into other parts of Africa, including Nigeria.

The two-year-old company, which started in Cairo and also operates in Alexandria and Nairobi in Kenya, 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.

“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 officer, said by phone from Cairo. “Lagos, Nigeria, is most likely the next market.’’

Swvl carries hundreds of thousands of customers each month, according to Kandil, an engineering graduate who once worked for Careem, a Middle Eastern-focused transport firm that Uber is acquiring.

Uber and Careem have both launched bus services in Cairo in the past year. Along with Swvl, they’re exploiting growing demand among the city’s 20 million people for transport options that are cheaper than taxis but more convenient than public buses, which are often perceived as unreliable and dangerous.

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

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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