Companies

SWVL picks former Uber executive to head local operations

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A SWVL mini bus in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Dip Patel joins the company at a time it is locked in licensing row with the transport regulation in a spat that has threated to derail SWVL Kenya operations.
  • The firm says it will tap into Mr Patel’s experience gained at Uber to replicate the taxi hailing model in the matatu sector.

Egypt-based matatu-hailing app SWVL has appointed former Uber Kenya boss Dip Patel to lead its local operations, tapping into his experience in the segment.

Mr Patel joins the company at a time it is locked in licensing row with the transport regulation in a spat that has threated to derail SWVL Kenya operations.

The firm says it will tap into Mr Patel’s experience gained at Uber to replicate the taxi hailing model in the matatu sector.

“We see the Kenyan commuter market as one with great potential and with a gap that we are working to fill using technology,” said Mostafa Kandil, SWVL co-founder and CEO.

We, therefore, needed to carefully select an individual with extensive experience in the Kenyan tech space and a passion for impacting the daily lives of commuters. I am sure we have made the right choice."

SWVL offers point-to-point shuttle services with users booking trips through mobile phones. They are then notified of the nearest pick-up point, price and time to board. It is popular with the Nairobi’s working class keen to avoid the matatu chaos.

Last month, the firm added long-distance trips to Naivasha, Kisumu, Nakuru, Meru and Embu as well as multiple routes in Nairobi and outskirts. It already has 55 connections.

Last year, it secured Sh1.5 billion funding to finance an aggressive route expansion plan in Nairobi.

The start-up, which was founded by Egyptian operators, had set a target to grow its network to 500 routes served by 1,000 buses. But its expansion has faced regulatory headwinds.

Last year, the transport regulator ordered it to cease operations over a PSV licence.