Egyptian start-up app-based shuttle service SWVL has announced plans to inject Sh1.5 billion into its Kenyan operations.
The shuttle hailing firm officially launched its services in Nairobi on Thursday making it the second city in Africa after Cairo to set up shop in.
The firm plans on making the capital the hub for its sub-Saharan African operations.
“There is a big opportunity in Nairobi for us to create a mass transit system for the middle class and the Sh1.5 billion investment will go into setting up the infrastructure and networks to make it happen,” said SWVL Co-founder and Chief Executive Mostafa Kandil.
SWVL has been running on a pilot basis for the past six months and has so far built its fleet to 150 buses running along 55 routes.
With plans to venture outside Nairobi, the firm hopes to fill a gap that has yet to be sufficiently covered by what is already available.
“That is what has prompted us to expand our route offering to match the convenience of ride-hailing services but at the same time matching the capacity provided by the traditional matatu industry for an even larger customer base than we have before”, said Shivachi Muleji, SWVL General Manager for Kenya.
According to Mr Muleji, the Sh1.5 billion investment will not help in the firm’s growth but also create employment for locals.
“We see this as a win-win for us as SWVL and for Kenyans because this investment will not only allow us to grow the size of our fleet, but also by extension create employment and support the government in providing high quality public transportation,” he added.
SWVL recently closed its Sh4.2 billion Series B-2 funding led by BECO Capital and Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures.
This increased the start-up’s valuation to Sh15 billion and comes almost seven months after it was valued at around Sh10 billion after the last round of fund raising. This makes it among the best funded start-ups in the region.
The app-based service allows users to book trips using their mobile devices, which notifies them of the nearest pick-up point, price and time by the bus.