CAIRO (Reuters) - Halan, an Egyptian technology start-up that uses two- and three-wheeled vehicles to transport passengers and goods, will begin operating in Ethiopia before the end of 2019, its chief executive told Reuters.
The company, which targets underserved communities, is also expanding to more cities in the Egyptian governorates of Sharqeya, Daqahleya, Damietta, Qena and Gharbeya this year, said CEO and founder Mounir Nakhla.
Halan’s app allows customers to request motorbike or tuk-tuk rides, or order food or goods for delivery via motorbikes or cargo tricycles. Founded in November 2017, it already operates in around 20 to 25 cities in Egypt and Sudan.
“Halan completes a few million rides per month, almost half a million of which are in food deliveries,” Nakhla said, adding ride-hailing trips had increased 55% and food deliveries more than quadrupled in the year to date.
Nakhla, who has a background in microfinance, hopes Halan will become “pan-African” and said he saw tremendous opportunity for growth on the continent.
“Adama is a very small place in Ethiopia, about 150 km away from Addis Ababa, and it has a lot of two-wheelers and three-wheelers,” Nakhla said.
“It’s a great place to test our product in Ethiopia. We’ve already done tens of rides there in the form of testing, and we’ve got a team on board.”
The city has less than 1,000 vehicles whose drivers Halan will try to recruit to its platform “before launching countrywide,” Nakhla said.
Halan has delivery partnerships with fast food chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut in Egypt. It is now targeting smaller restaurants in the underserved areas it focuses on.
The app has around 10,000 active drivers per month in total, Nakhla said. He added that Egypt has around 700,000 tuk-tuks on its streets. Uber has 90,000 monthly active drivers in Egypt.
Halan is in the midst of a so-called Series B funding round, Nakhla said, declining to disclose a timeline or targeted amount.
The start-up has raised “slightly less than $20 million” to date, Nakhla said. It employs more than 100 people.
Gojek, an Indonesian ride-hailing and e-payments company, inspired Nakhla to found Halan after he met Gojek founder and CEO Nadiem Makarim in Indonesia in 2017.
When asked if Halan would eventually go public, Nakhla said: “Our current main focus is to grow the company exponentially in a sustainable manner, while adding value to the community.”
Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Mark Potter