Egyptian startup Swvl plans to invest $25 million in Pakistan by 2021

Vehicles of bus ride-sharing apps can now be seen on the city’s roads as the alternative is quite unpalatable for commuters. (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Updated 05 November 2019

Egyptian startup Swvl plans to invest $25 million in Pakistan by 2021

  • Company general manager says the ride-hailing service hopes to create 10,000 jobs, mobilize half a million consumers by 2023
  • With operations in four cities, Pakistan is Swvl’s biggest market

Islamabad: Egyptian bus transportation network company Swvl plans to invest $25 million in Pakistan in the next 18 months and create more than 10,000 jobs, the Pakistan general manager of the ride-hailing app told Arab News on Tuesday.

Swvl, founded in 2017 by Mostafa Kandil, operates in more than five countries, running buses along fixed routes and allowing customers to reserve and pay for rides using an app. Rates are charged according to the distance traveled, starting from Rs20 for a 25km ride.

“The major portion of the $25 million would be invested in building a mass transit system like putting in buses and scaling up the demand,” Shahzeb Memon told Arab News via phone from Karachi. “We have plans of mobilizing half a million annual consumers by 2023 and creating 10,000 jobs a year.”

Memon explained that Swvl’s service did not only target existing ride-hailing users but aimed to create transportation options for a large and growing middle class that could not previously afford such services. He said Swvl was targeting both commuters as well as underutilized vehicles in the market.

“In Pakistani emerging markets like Karachi, there is no proper public transport system available. So, we come in and take the burden off the government,” Memon said. “We are here to put in the mass transit system for the big middle class, where we utilize buses to generate enough demand for them.”

“The company is operating on more than 150 routes in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad,” Memon said. “Our main focus is to build our customer base in these densely populated cities; then we will go to tier two cities.”

Currently, with operations in four cities, Pakistan is Swvl’s biggest market. Even in Egypt, the service is available only in two cities, Cairo and Alexandria.

Memon said the company also wanted to use Pakistan as the main support office to help resolve queries coming from other markets.

“We are planning to open an offshore support office in Pakistan as labor here is cheaper,” the GM said. “We are also looking into the possibility of opening an engineering office in Pakistan to build the technology as Pakistan has some of the best talents in the world and we would like to utilize it.”

Coronavirus takes further toll on Pakistani media 

Updated 28 May 2020

Coronavirus takes further toll on Pakistani media 

  • Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) calls on media organizations to enforce stricter safety rules
  • More than 150 journalists are known to have tested positive for COVID-19

KARACHI: Three Pakistani media staff lost their battle with the coronavirus on Thursday, as pressure is mounting on news organizations to protect their workers.
Two Radio Pakistan employees, Urdu newscaster Huma Zafar and senior broadcast engineer Muhammad Ashfaq died of COVID-19 on Thursday morning, the radio confirmed in a statement.
Also in the morning, 92 News senior reporter Fakhruddin Syed succumbed to the disease.
“Fakhruddin Syed is the first journalist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who lost his life due to this pandemic. He was one of the pioneers from 92 News HD channel,” 92 News said in an obituary on its website.
Last week, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) appealed to media organizations to enforce stricter safety rules, as more journalists have been sent into the field since the country lifted the remaining restrictions imposed on businesses to slow the pandemic.
The PFUJ’s COVID-19 committee head, Zulfiqar Ali Mehto, told Arab News on May 21 that the majority of the infected were reporters, cameramen and photojournalists, which implies that they had contracted the virus during field coverage.
Newsrooms are not safe either, according to PFUJ.
“We have rigorously worked on collecting data and have analyzed each case, which tells us that protective measures are not being taken seriously. If a single person is infected, given almost zero space between workstations, the virus may spread across the whole office,” Mehto said, adding that few media organizations provided hand sanitizers, face masks and gloves to their staff.
More than 150 journalists are known to have tested positive for the virus, according to PFUJ’s last week’s report. 
With Thursday’s victims, at least six Pakistani media workers have died of the disease.