Egyptian startup swvl debuts on Nasdaq

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Swvl, Accelerated at The American University in Cairo Venture Lab, has made its debut on Nasdaq and is now the first $1 billion-plus Middle East unicorn to list on Nasdaq and the largest African unicorn debut on any U.S.-listed exchange

Accelerated at The American University in Cairo (AUC) Venture Lab, Swvl has made its debut on Nasdaq and is now the first $1 billion-plus Middle East unicorn to list on Nasdaq and the largest African unicorn debut on any U.S.-listed exchange.

In 2017, Mostafa Kandil ’15 co-founded Swvl, an app that organised a convenient and customized public transportation alternative in Egypt, alongside Mahmoud Nouh and Ahmed Sabbah.

Kandil started his studies as a petroleum engineering student at AUC but sought a more dynamic path as he was always keen on exploring the business world. In 2017, Swvl joined AUC Venture Lab, Egypt’s first University-based accelerator, which offers acceleration programs to high-growth, innovation-driven tech startups.

In August 2021, when SWVL announced that it would list on the Nasdaq, Kandil said, “I’m proud to say that being an AUC student was the start of the journey that brought me to this moment in my life.”

Entering the exchange next to other tech giants with a valuation of $1.5 billion, Swvl is also the second in the Middle East to list on Nasdaq via a SPAC (Special Purpose Action Committee) merger, following Anghami.

Ayman Ismail ’95, ’97, founding director of the V-Lab and associate professor and Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship says: “We are very excited to see Swvl’s team reach this inspiring milestone. At AUC Venture Lab, we take pride in having been part of Swvl’s early journey and continue to be committed to being a catalyst for growth and to empowering more inspiring founders during their journeys. [Swvl is] “an inspiration to many entrepreneurs and one that paves the way for an entire generation of tech startups.”

Accelerated by the V-Lab in Cycle 8, the team was able to launch the application before graduating from the cycle. The startup has seen impressive growth since its launch, crossing Egypt’s borders and establishing roots abroad. Kandil was named — along with co-founders Nouh and Sabbah — among Forbes Middle East’s Top Arab 30 under 30 in 2018. The company now operates in 115 cities in 18 countries across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

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To date, the V-Lab has graduated over 300 graduate startups that have gained EGP 3 billion in investments and created 10,000 jobs. In 2021, the lab was recognized as the Best Accelerator/Incubator Program in North Africa by the Global Startup Awards.

Founded in 1919, The American University in Cairo (AUC) is a leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education and center of the intellectual, social, and cultural life of the Arab world. It is a vital bridge between East and West, linking Egypt and the region to the world through scholarly research, partnerships with academic and research institutions and study abroad programs.

The University offers 40 undergraduate, 52 master’s and two PhD programs rooted in a liberal arts education that encourages students to think critically and find creative solutions to conflicts and challenges facing both the region and the world. An independent, nonprofit, politically non-partisan, non-sectarian and equal opportunity institution, AUC is fully accredited in Egypt and the United States.