Co-founder Mudassir Sheikh also says an IPO is a 'natural milestone', but not yet on the cards
Ride-hailing app Careem sees potential to expand to at least 250 cities in the MENA region, according to co-founder Mudassir Sheikha.
The service is expected to launch in Sudan by June, while other potential markets include Oman and Algeria. It is currently available in over 100 cities in 14 countries in MENA.
“Our estimate is that there are at least 250 cities in the region that should have a service like Careem. There are people living in these markets that can also benefit from an income generating opportunity and a seamless transportation option that we would love to provide with the services we built,” he said.
“There are countries we’re not present in such as Algeria, Oman, but there are even more cities in existing countries that we need to expand to and make our service available,” he added.
Careem, which launched in 2012, has not yet made a profit, Sheikha said, though parts of the business are currently profitable.
“The consolidated business plan needs another couple of years to breakeven, but there are parts of the business that are already profitable such as some of the earlier services are already making money. The four big markets for us are Egypt, Saudi, Pakistan and the UAE, but there are many new countries we have launched in which will become more significant over time,” he said.
“We continue to see opportunity in new markets and in new businesses that require investment, which is what pushes the profitability level out of it,” he added.
The co-founder also said the company will eventually be listed on a public stock exchange, though it is not currently in the cards.
“The IPO is a natural milestone that’s going to happen at some point, but this is not something that we’re focused on at the moment. We’re focused on building an organisation that can truly impact the lives of a large majority of this region in terms of earning a living, in terms of mobility and in terms of other daily needs,” he said.
Careem claims it provides 80,000 job opportunities a month in MENA. It currently has 800,000 captains and 24 million customers on its platform.