Sometime in June 2019, news made the round that the Nigerian ride-hailing market should expect the addition of another bus-hailing startup. Swvl. This was after it was reported to have raised $42 million in a Series B-2 funding round.
But from all indications, the startup is yet to follow through with their commitment.
Founded in 2017, the Egyptian bus service enables riders to share its fixed-route bus trips for a fixed fare. At least that’s the nature of service it already provides in its home country of Egypt, as well as in Kenya.
Navigating the startup’s website, social media handles and app, there’s absolutely no evidence of any new venture in Nigeria. Is the startup’s declaration of purpose nothing but a mere lip service?
Swivl’s last concrete show of interest came in August when it announced a vacancy for the role of Country General Manager in Nigeria. Presently, that advertisement is no longer available and it is unclear if the startup employed a country manager.
To put it in perspective, Last June, the startup promised to begin operations in Lagos the following month with 50 buses. Now, 6 months down the line, there is no sign of activity. So, where is Swivl?
With a valuation of over $100 million, the startup appears to have enough liquidity to fuel its expansion plans which begins with its launch to Lagos. If the problem doesn’t seem to be financial, could it be regulatory? Could the business environment be its major setback?
Bus hailing startups have for a while been in existence in Lagos, although a little bit under the radar. Startups such as Staffbus.ng, Zeno, Shuttlers.ng, OBus (now suspended), and Mizi have offered users ride-hailing services with buses.
One of the most prominent of the bunch is OBus, which appears to be on hold now (feature no longer displays on the Opay app as at press time). According to report, this may have been caused by ‘unsustainable business model’ as officials of the NURTW have made operations quite difficult.
Could this be one of the factors causing a delay in Swivl’s launch?
We are yet to get a response from Swvl as regarding the issue.
Regardless, the bus hailing service is one many people look forward to having. Hopefully startups operating in this section figure things out like their bike-hailing counterparts.