Egypt-founded ride-sharing startup Swvl is set for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq exchange after a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that values it at US$1.5 billion – making it a rare African “unicorn”.
Founded by Mostafa Kandil in 2017, Swvl is a mass-transit system that enables riders heading in the same direction to share a ride in a van or bus. The startup’s proprietary mobility solutions are helping to solve mass transit supply and demand challenges in emerging markets, empowering underserved communities with transportation solutions that are reliable, convenient, safe, and affordable.
The startup is among the best-funded in Africa, with an estimated US$170 million raised including a US$42 million Series B-2 round in 2019,and is now active across 10 cities in Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Swvl’s gross revenue and markets have grown rapidly, with more than 1.4 million riders booking more than 46 million rides to date with thousands of drivers on its platform.
It has now entered into a definitive agreement for a business combination with Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital, the first SPAC led by women, in a move that will result in Swvl becoming a publicly-listed company. Upon completion of the proposed transaction, the combined public company will be named Swvl Holdings Corp and is expected to be listed on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “SWVL” at a valuation of around US$1.5 billion.
“We have succeeded in executing our business plan in some of the most challenging emerging markets, where inefficiencies in infrastructure and related mass transit systems represent a universal problem, and have now reached a critical inflection point where we are ready to share our expertise and technology with the rest of the world,” Kandil said.
“Queen’s Gambit is an ideal partner, who shares our core values and is committed to helping accelerate Swvl’s long-term growth plans. With their partnership, as a public company, we will expand our daily commuting offerings and enterprise TaaS services that remove barriers to seamless mobility for the populations that need it most. In doing so, we will create even greater value for all stakeholders and continue innovating best-in-class technology solutions that improve the universal, daily struggle of mobility for so many.”
Agility, a global supply chain leader operating in many of Swvl’s key markets, has made a significant capital commitment in Queen’s Gambit and the combined company, as has Zain, a leading mobile voice and data services operator with nearly 50 million active customers across many of Swvl’s current markets.
“When forming Queen’s Gambit, I was squarely focused on assembling a team of highly successful and strategically-minded women with unparalleled global relationships, to identify and then grow a disruptive platform that solves complex challenges and empowers underserved populations. In Swvl, we have found each of those things and more. Having established a leadership position in key emerging markets, we believe Swvl is ready to capitalise on a truly global market opportunity. We look forward to working with their team to create significant and sustained value for investors and all stakeholders alike,” said Victoria Grace, Queen’s Gambit founder and chief executive officer (CEO).