With over $38M raised last year, Egypt's Swvl expands to Kenya

Last year saw Africa's early stage and technology companies raise over $686.4 million in total funding, according to the Digest Africa Index. Egypt, with $68 million, was among the top five most funded countries. But, the most significant chunk of that came from bus-sharing startup - Swvl, which is estimated to have raised over $38 million through two different funding rounds. Now, it seems that it is the right time for them to start deploying the cash.

Towards the end of 2018, Swvl's co-founder and CEO, Mustafa Kandil, told Almal News some of their expansion plans. He pointed out that they were looking to expand to "10 cities outside Egypt in 2019, beginning with the Philippine capital of Manila and including Nairobi, Dakar, and Jakarta".

According to Swvl's info and ads section on Facebook, they have started running Nairobi-focused adverts. The six ads run so far are an indicator that the startup might have decided to expand to Nairobi before the other earlier planned cities.

In the ads, Swvl - which runs a mass-transit bus-sharing service - points out that they already have "more than 80 [bus] stations and five main lines [that] are just one tap away".

[caption id="attachment_9053" align="aligncenter" width="577"]One of the adverts that Swvl is running. One of the adverts that Swvl is running.[/caption]

Swvl is among the pioneers of bus-sharing services in the world. Last year saw competition in this particular segment stiffen after Careem - one of its early backers - decided to launch its service.

In July 2017, Careem - MENA's most prominent rival to Uber - participated in Swvl's $500,000 seed round. However, Almal News reported that they exited the startup after they conceived plans of running a similar service. They have since then launched it in Egypt - Swvl's home market - and planned to scale it to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Uber also launched its first bus-sharing service in Egypt last year. Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's CEO - who attended the launch event in Cairo - added that they had plans to invest more than $100 million into the country. The company also hinted on plans to introduce the bus-sharing service to Nairobi, though Swvl seems to have beaten them to that market, too.

Egypt has given birth to a couple of interesting segment-focused ride-hailing startups in the recent past. For example, Halan, which raised $4.3 million in a Series A last year, is only focused on the tuk-tuks, while Buseet - which raised $250,000 from 500 Startups last year - describes itself as a "network of modern shuttles on fixed repeat routes every day".

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