Egyptian startup Swvl acquires mobility startup Urbvan and expands to Mexico

Swvl Holdings Corp, a multinational mobility as a service provider, has announced an agreement to acquire Urbvan, a mobility platform that provides tech-enabled mobility services in Mexico. With this acquisition, the Egyptian-born startup will be expanding into Mexico, the second most populated country in Latin America.

The ongoing acquisition process, which is set to be completed in Q3 of 2021, will be one of the uncommon cases of acquisitions by African startups

The move follows Swvl’s decision to lay off 32% of its employees earlier in May 2022, citing their need to turn cash flow positive as the reason for the lay-offs.

Urbvan provides tech-enabled mobility services that aim to ensure a safe, comfortable, and efficient commute for riders. Founded in 2016, Urbvan set out with the intent of using shared mobility as a catalyst to improve living conditions for Mexicans. The company operates in 18 cities across Mexico with solutions for urban routes, intercity routes, for private organisations and for private on-demand needs. 

Six years down the line, Swvl will be acquiring the company and leveraging Urbvan’s networks to accelerate Swvl’s mission to provide safer, faster, smarter, and more affordable mass transport for everyone, no matter where they live.

In a statement seen by TechCabal, Mostafa Kandil, Swvl founder and CEO, highlighted the similarities between the 2 companies, maintaining that Urbvan’s footprints in Mexico will be beneficial and instrumental to Swvl’s expansion in the region.

“Urbvan was founded on the same principles as Swvl: to address the inefficiencies found in traditional mass transit in many parts of the world. With a significant footprint in Mexico, an impressive suite of transport-as-a-service (TaaS) offerings, and strong relationships with local government players, this acquisition reinforces Swvl’s position as a leading provider of safer and more reliable mobility solutions which are required for vulnerable people living in densely populated, challenging markets with vast geographies,” he said.

“Swvl and Urbvan share a vision to remodel mass transit to be safer for everyone, no matter their gender or social class, in the most challenging and densely populated urban neighbourhoods in Latin America,” Renato Picard, Urbvan co-Founder and co-CEO, said in the statement.

“We are excited to partner with Swvl as we work to illustrate best practices for tech-optimised day-to-day travel in Mexico. This transaction positions Urbvan to leverage Swvl’s global offerings to scale the platform both within the region and beyond. We look forward to using our combined capabilities to provide safe, efficient, and affordable shared mobility options across the world,” he added.

Swvl, which went public in 2021, was the first African startup to go public via a SPAC and is currently valued at $1.5 billion.