On the evening of July 29, 2021, all Dubai residents’ eyes were drawn to the towering Burj Khalifa, the city’s most famous landmark, which was painted in a distinctive deep red color with 4 letters written in a mixture of white and yellow (SWVL).
This was the highlight of the publicity ceremony of the Dubai-based Egyptian startup SWVL, after announcing its listing on the US Nasdaq Stock Exchange at a value of one and a half billion dollars.
Coinciding with the celebration, the ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid, wrote a tweet congratulating Swvl on this achievement, referring to Mustafa Kandil, the company’s co-founder, who described him as “an Arab entrepreneur who was able to build a company from Dubai that exceeds one and a half billion dollars,” noting that Dubai “will remain a platform for all Arab youth who aspire to cosmopolitanism from its land.”
Mustafa Kandil..a 28-year-old Arab man..He managed to build a company from Dubai worth more than one and a half billion dollars. It was listed today on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange..SWVL for smart solutions for mass transportation, which operates in many countries.. Congratulations, Mustafa. Dubai will remain a platform for all Arab youth who aspire to globality
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) July 28, 2021
Although the celebration of the company’s success was held in Dubai, which hosts its headquarters, with the intense trend of the UAE to open its doors to entrepreneurs around the world and host them on its lands and provide them with all facilities, the success story of “Swvl” did not start except in the crowded streets of Cairo, which It witnessed the birth of the idea of Mustafa Kandil and his companions, and it quickly turned into a start-up company that achieved regional growth in a record time that did not exceed four years.
At the beginning of 2017, SWVL was founded by 3 old friends, all of whom were not over 25 at the time, Mustafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Noah.
Despite their relatively young ages, the founding trio has great experience in the fields of programming, operations, and marketing, led by Mustafa Kandil, who worked in several executive positions for large companies such as “Rocket internet” and “Careem” for participatory transport.
After each of them resigned from their job, the three of them agreed to launch their startup company in the field of participatory transport, based on their observation that the transportation crisis and its congestion is the biggest problem that all developing countries suffer from, and not just an Egyptian problem.
Helping them do this is that all three have extensive experience in related fields, which enhances their ability to solve this problem effectively.
The basic idea was to provide a bus service with high standards of efficiency, safety and comfort, at an affordable price for the middle class, and to connect buses and passengers through a smartphone application similar to Uber and Careem.
The company built its first headquarters in an old apartment owned by one of the team members, and the initial funding with which they started their startup was about $30,000 they collected from their own efforts. (seed fund) of $500,000, which is the first funding payment that Swvl has received after its founding. (2)
In March 2017, the team of the founders of Swvl appeared on a program broadcast on an Egyptian satellite channel to present their emerging entrepreneurial idea before a jury of experts from among a group of other companies. Among the project presentation paragraphs, there was a special paragraph about the concept of expansion (Scalability) available to each startup company to achieve after its launch in the market, which was questioned by one of the members of the jury, considering that “Swvl” does not have a sufficient competitive advantage – as he put it – To make it grow significantly, given that the market contains many big competitors.
No doubt the expert was wrong.
Within several months of starting the company’s activity, the number of its employees increased to thirty-five, and the startup was able, in its first year, to operate thousands of trips in Cairo and Alexandria, the two largest cities in Egypt, which raised investors’ interest in the startup and ended with announcing a tour (A) in April 2018 of $8.5 million led by a group of local and regional investors.
Surprisingly, by the end of the same year, Swvl was able to extract a new round of financing (B) whose exact value was not announced, although it was estimated at between 20 to 30 million dollars, to become Swvl at the top of the list of Egyptian startups in terms of funding in 2018 with two major funding rounds in one year, which is unusual in the startup world.
“I want to build an empire.”
(The founder of “Swvl” while presenting his idea on an Egyptian TV show in early 2017)
By the end of 2018, and during the first quarter of 2019, Swvl achieved rapid growth in the Egyptian market, reaching about 200 lines with a total of 1,000 large, small and medium buses throughout the governorates of Cairo and Alexandria.
At that time, Swvl launched its first expansion plans in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya in East Africa, which was the first overseas station for the Egyptian startup.
In mid-2019, the largest financing round obtained by the company, amounting to 42 million dollars, was announced by a consortium of local, regional and international investors, and it was considered one of the largest financing rounds in the region that year, and the largest financing deal obtained by an Egyptian startup to date.
This funding coincided with Swvl’s announcement of its intention to expand into several foreign markets in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
In July of the same year, Swvl announced the start of operating its flights in the densely populated Pakistani city of Lahore (about 10 million people), becoming the third destination for its activities after Egypt (Cairo and Alexandria) and Kenya (Nairobi).
At the end of the same year, Swvl announced that it had moved its headquarters from Cairo to Dubai as a global regional hub, with Cairo remaining the operations and engineering center for the startup.
With the advent of 2020, “Swvl” witnessed activity in increasing its passengers in the various cities in which it operates, until it obtained additional financing in May of $29 million led by a coalition of regional and global investors, bringing the total financing obtained by the company to more than 100 million dollars and become one of the largest funded startups in the region.
At the beginning of 2021, “Swvl” announced that it had expanded to Jordan, by providing its services to deliver employees collectively to their workplaces, which contributed to saving a large percentage of the cost of transporting employees to companies. With the advent of June of the same year, Swvl began working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as its sixth market, as it began contracting with companies to transport employees, and began in the cities of Riyadh and the Eastern Province, with plans to expand to include many major Saudi cities. (3, 4)
At the end of July 2021, Swvl announced its merger with Queen’s Gambit – yes, that company was named after the popular Netflix series – a Special Purpose Acquisition (SPAC) company entirely led by Female cadres, whose job is to integrate with distinguished startups around the world and facilitate their listing on the stock exchange, which resulted in the transformation of “Swvl” into a public joint stock company listed on the famous Nasdaq stock exchange with a value of 1.5 billion dollars.
According to the statements of Mostafa Kandil, founder and CEO of “Swvl”, the company’s resorting to the option of listing on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange through merging with a private acquisition company provides the company with a greater way to raise funds that accelerates its global growth, and allows it to expand with greater steps in global markets, which is What is the company’s goal in the coming period?
With its listing on Nasdaq through a merger with a private acquisition company, Swvl becomes the second startup in the Middle East to receive an IPO on the world’s most famous technology exchange, after the Abu Dhabi-based music platform Anghami, which announced At the beginning of 2021 it went public after merging with a private acquisitions company.
However, Swvl remains the first Egyptian startup to list on Nasdaq, and the second Egyptian company to list after Fawry.
(3, 4, 5)
So far, Swvl operates in 10 major cities covering 6 countries, namely Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Pakistan, the UAE and Jordan, providing millions of trips to millions of passengers through thousands of drivers through its digital platform, and the number of its employees is about 700.
Since its launch in 2017, the company has achieved an estimated growth of 450%, and has entered between five to six announced and undisclosed funding rounds, through which it has raised more than $100 million by regional and global investors and venture funds, while the company’s revenues have jumped in 2020, according to Mustafa Kandil’s statements to CNBC Arabia amounted to about $26 million.
According to the “Queens Gambit” report, “Swvl” seeks to reach revenues of one billion dollars in 2025, after implementing major expansion plans in global markets that include more than 20 countries on five continents, with the aim of increasing its cake from the global market of mass-sharing transport, which is estimated at its size about a trillion dollars.
Latin America and Europe are at the beginning of the markets that Swvl aims to expand in the coming period, as an official in the company said that it plans to launch in Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Spain next year.
With the announcement of the “Swvl” IPO deal worth one and a half billion dollars, which will be implemented in the last quarter of this year 2021, a group of the most prominent beneficiaries of this huge deal appears on the scene, starting from the founders of the company through the investors and not ending with “Swvl” employees and the campaign Stocks and the Entrepreneurial Environment in Egypt and the Arab Region.
Mostafa Kandil, Mahmoud Noah and Ahmed Sabbah, the first founders of Swvl.
There is no doubt that Mustafa Kandil, founder and CEO, is the most individual in the company who owns a share of the shares – although the exact amount of shares he owns is not specified – and he will be able to reap tens of millions of dollars if he sells a share of his shares in the company, according to the “Minabytes” website, which specializes in Monitoring the movement of entrepreneurship in the region.
As for Ahmed Al-Sabah, he left the company at the beginning of this year, and started establishing a new startup company under the name “Telda” in the financial technology sector that has already garnered $ 5 million in financing, while Mahmoud Noah left the company at the end of 2019, so he is likely to have the least amount of shares among the founders.
Over the 4 years of its establishment, Swvl led about 6 announced financing rounds, in which about 15 regional and international venture capitalists and a number of individual investors contributed.
The first seed funding that Swvl obtained from Careem was $500,000 in exchange for 20 to 25% of the company’s shares, but Careem’s stake was sold the following year when an $8.5 million investment round was announced by a number of companies. regional investors.
“Today, Swvl has not only made a huge and spanning impact in the region, but also made a huge impact in the lives of its team members. Soon we will have 18 millionaires in US dollars, 95 millionaires in UAE dirhams, and 203 millionaires in Egyptian pounds on our team, and I am sure that the world will witness “Swvl Mafia” soon,” Mustafa Kandil said in a Facebook post after “Swvl” was put up for public subscription at a value of one and a half billion dollars.
As for the “Swivel Mafia”, it is a common expression in the world of startups similar to “Paypal Mafia”, where it refers to the employees who collaborated together in establishing a successful company, and then each of them went to establish his own startup according to the standards he learned in the parent company. that collected them.
Finally, there is no doubt that the entrepreneurial community in the Arab region in general is the main beneficiary of the Swvl listing deal on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, because it means more global investor confidence in the entrepreneurial environment in the Middle East and North Africa, and more exposure to emerging projects Which means new horizons for these projects in world markets.
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