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Egyptian transport start-up targets Philippines, Bangladesh after Pakistan launch

By Syed Raza Hassan
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Egyptian transport start-up targets Philippines, Bangladesh after Pakistan launch

A woman walks past a vehicle with a logo of the Egyptian transport technology start-up Swvl, parked along a road in Islamabad

By Syed Raza Hassan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - Swvl, an Egyptian startup with an app to book bus tickets, plans to launch operations in the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh by the end of next year, a senior official said.

The startup, which operates buses along fixed routes and allows customers to reserve and pay for them using its app, began operations in Egypt in 2017. Swvl has since launched in Pakistan and recently moved its headquarters to Dubai.

"By the end of next year, we want to be in more cities, a city is a market for us. We are planning to open in Manila, Jakarta and Dhaka," Shahzeb Memon, Swvl Pakistan's general manager told Reuters on Monday in a phone interview from Karachi.

The company, which has raised $80 million in funding so far, launched its services in August in the Pakistani cities of Karachi, Lahore and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It plans to invest $25 million in the country to create 10,000 jobs and hopes to attract half a million customers by 2021, Memon said.

The company, however, has already run into regulatory hurdles.

Last week, a provincial government in Pakistan issued notices to the startup and another similar service saying they were operating without route permits and no-objection certificates from the government.

Swvl Pakistan responded with a statement saying the company always carried out its business in a lawful manner and was committed to complying with the region's laws.

Swvl says its service targets existing ride-hailing users and aims to create transportation options for a large and growing middle class in Asian cities.

Swvl's services are 30%-40% cheaper than using a car, Memon said.



(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; editing by Richard Pullin)