Swvl, the Egyptian app-based mass transit system, announced a $8 million Series A that was led by regional venture fund BECO Capital, Africa-based investor DiGAME and global VC fund Silicon Badia. Other VC firms Raed Ventures, Arzan VC, Oman Technology Fund, and chairman of EDventure Holdings Esther Dyson, also participated in the round. The round comes as both primary and secondary.
"The $8 million round is the biggest round of funding for a tech start up in Egypt and one of the biggest rounds in the Middle East,” said Mostafa Kandil, co-founder and CEO of Swvl. “With the funding, Swvl will solidify its position in Egypt and establish the company as a global leader in the affordable smart mobility space, offering fixed routes for a fixed flat fare at prices that are up to 80% cheaper than on-demand ride-hailing services.
“We’re trying to build our own version of public transportation, that’s smarter basically,” said the 25-year old Kandil who earned a spot on Forbes Middle East’s 30 under 30 ranking earlier this year, along with Swvl co-founders Mahmoud Nouh and Ahmed Sabbah.
Forbes Middle East has also ranked Swvl at the15th position in 50 startups to watch in the Arab world.
Nouh and Sabbah also revealed that the company is planning major expansion over the years. “Swvl intends to invest $16.9 million (300 million EGP) in the local market in the next three years to empower as many micro-entrepreneurs as possible in Egypt and the region and to become one of the biggest job creators in the country,” the company said. Swvl plans to expand beyond Egypt to other emerging markets across the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa region within 2018.
Kandil said that Esther Dyson will be joining Swvl’s Board of Directors, on behalf of DiGAME, along with Dany Farha, the CEO & co-founder of BECO Capital and the co-founder of Bayt.com. Dyson was previously on the board of Yandex, which recently formed a joint venture with Uber Russia.
Swvl has been extremely popular in its home market of Egypt where it provides commuters a smart alternative that allows them to share buses on demand to beat the country’s traffic snarls. The company operates hundreds of buses along 200 routes in Cairo and Alexandria.
Customers are a mix of university students and corporate employees with a majority of them being women, who want to avoid harassment on public transportation. Eventually, SWVL aspires to cater to all customer segments by building out their network, optimization, and differentiated product offerings. “We try to solve all of our problems with technology,” said Kandil.