Mobility startup SWVL has announced the suspension of its intra-city and city-to-city passenger services in Kenya – SWVL Daily and SWVL Travel.
SWVL will, however, continue to operate its SWVL Business service which caters to corporations among other businesses. The Egypt-born startup, which is headquartered in Dubai, has been present in Kenya since 2019.
Through its app, it allowed users to sign up for regular, scheduled rides with clear pick up and drop off points. It proved popular with commuters in the capital eager to escape the disorder associated with matatus and other Public Service Vehicles (PSVs).
“In light of the global economic downturn, we are going to be gradually pausing our SWVL daily intra-city rides in Nairobi, and SWVL travel city-to-city rides,” the firm noted in a statement.
Hinting at a possible return in the future, they added: “We want to thank you for trusting us. We’re sorry, but we’ll be back.”
The move to suspend the services in Kenya comes amid a larger international cost-cutting strategy as the startup pursues profitability. It went public only two months ago, through a SPAC merger with US company Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital.
SWVL operates in 13 markets globally: the UAE, Egypt, Kenya, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan. It has confirmed plans to lay off 32% of its workforce.
SWVL is among tech firms that have seen their valuations take a hit due to the global economic downturn.
It listed on the NASDAQ at $10 per share and aimed for a $1.5 billion valuation but has been trading at between $4 and $8. Its present valuation stands at around $500-$600 million.