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.”


OIC offers scholarships under education exchange program

Updated 14 November 2019

OIC offers scholarships under education exchange program

  • The scheme is highly beneficial for Pakistani students, says the HEC chairman
  • COMSTECH spends $250,000 annually on scholarships for Muslim countries

ISLAMABAD: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s education exchange program was highly beneficial since it allowed students to engage with scholars and experts in other countries, Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan Dr. Tariq Banuri told Arab News on Thursday.
The commission recently advertised on its website the Turkish Cypriot Government’s scholarships under the OIC Educational Exchange Program, starting the next academic year.
According to the details provided by the HEC, five students from OIC member states, including Pakistan, would avail the opportunity to study at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels in the participating universities.
“Such international learning and knowledge propel students toward acceptance and understanding of an array of different cultural and community perspectives,” Dr. Banuri told Arab News on the phone, adding the exchange programs brought additional skills, cultural diversity and exposure to other problems and issues.
The HEC chairman informed that the competition for such scholarships was growing, noting that programs like these increased an individual’s “capability to compete in the global job market, created potential contacts for collaborative research and resulted in additional certifications and degrees.”
In order to promote dialogue among civilizations and to provide academic links between the 57 OIC member states, the international organization had started an education exchange program in 2005 which became fully operational in 2015.
Dr. Qasim Jan, adviser to the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific & Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) Islamabad, told Arab News that there was an immense need to promote cooperation in the field of education among Islamic countries, and the OIC education exchange program was a positive step in that direction.
“Education, especially in science and other technological disciplines, has become a nation’s basic need since a country’s economy is directly associated with technological developments in the modern world,” he noted. “If we look at developed economies like Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and other western European countries, they do not have much resources but are economic powers due to the knowledge economy that mostly derives from scientific education.”
Dr. Jan said that COMSTECH was providing substantial support to OIC member states in the field of science and technology. He also informed that his organization was contributing in the development of human resource to serve the Muslim world.
“We are spending $250,000 on scholarships annually which are provided to students from 57 Islamic countries,” he continued. “We have also been arranging trainings and workshops for people belonging to the OIC member states. The bulk of our budget comes from the Pakistan government, though we also get financial support from some OIC member countries, including Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.”