Swvl operates fixed routes for a fixed flat fare at prices that are up to 70 per cent cheaper than on-demand ride-hailing services, with no surge or peak pricing.
The Cairo-based startups plans to expand to emerging market mega-cities where public transportation is either broken or inadequate, connecting daily commuters with underutilised buses.
Chief executive officer (CEO) Mostafa Kandil has a track record in the space, having worked at Careem as a market launcher before founding Swvl. He realised that the average trip value, which is around US$4, is a hefty sum of money for Egyptians, especially after the recent flotation of the national currency.
He told Disrupt Africa he saw an opportunity to provide an attractive service at a competitive price through mobilising fleets of buses that were originally used to transport tourists but are now underutilised and depreciating in value due to the touristic recession Egypt has seen.
“People are torn apart between expensive on-demand ride-hailing services and low quality public transportation. We think that there is an urgent need for an alternative that is reliable yet cost competitive,” Kandil said.
“I wanted to exploit the untapped potential locked in buses that are either off the road in the off-season or parked due to low touristic activity to address this issue while providing tourism companies and bus owners with a better return on their vehicles.”
The self-funded startup has just released its iOS and Android customer apps, and recently won the first episode of the Egyptian version of Shark Tank. It has so far signed up more than 200 buses and claims it has been signing up a customer per minute since launch.
“We are currently operating in Cairo, but are currently perfecting our product to fit the needs of other emerging markets in general. We plan to launch in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Philippines by 2018,” said Kandil of Swvl, which takes 20 per cent commission on every ticket sale through its app.