Careem announces $500K investment in public transportation startup Swvl

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This news was updated to include an exclusive interview with  Mudassir Sheikha, the cofounder and managing director of Careem.

Careem, the leading ride-hailing service in the MENA, announced an investment of $500,000 in seed funding into Egyptian bus transportation network Swvl.

Swvl was founded last March by Mostafa Kandil, former Careem market launcher, Mahmoud Nouh and Ahmed Sabbah. The company is looking to provide affordable, reliable and convenient public transportation solutions to Egyptians and others in emerging markets.

Swvl users are able to select pick-up and drop-off locations and track bus movements in real time. Currently, the startup accepts payment via credit card but following this investment they are looking to roll out four different alternative payment options, including wallets and cash on delivery.

Swvl is expecting to service all of Cairo and Alexandria by the end of the year. In 2018, they are hoping to expand outside of Egypt. “With Swvl, we intend to fully re-engineer and re-model public transportation, not only in Egypt, but across the region,” said Kandil.

Mudassir Sheikha, the cofounder and managing director of Careem commented on the investment, and what it signifies for the future of the company saying: “Over time, Careem will evolve into an integrated transportation utility that will offer multiple transport options through a variety of online and offline means, and in the process, significantly improve the lives of people in our region.”

The investment is the first of its kind for Careem in the region and according to Sheikha, it is a part of their effort to promote entrepreneurship locally. He blames insufficient infrastructure, over populated buses and increasing demand for transportation for the congestion problems many Middle Eastern cities are witnessing today.

Although he praises Dubai’s transportation infrastructure and thinks the city will be one of the first to implement driverless solutions, he believes that in most cities it will be “platforms like Careem and SWVL that will crowdfund a mass transit system”. By doing so, Careem is aiming to create one million jobs in the region by next year.

This investment is one in a series Careem has made in the public transportation industry. Last summer the company announced a partnership with NEXT Future Transportation in an effort to bring driverless transportation solutions to the region. NEXT has created a self-driving electric pod that is able to drive on its own or by attaching itself to other pods to form a chain, bus-like structure. A $100,000 investment in R&D centers was also set up last year, focusing on innovation in transportation-related technology infrastructure in the region.

Feature Image via Pixabay


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