Naspers, the South African ecommerce and media conglomerate, has led a $125 million funding round into social commerce marketplace Meesho with participation from Facebook and existing investors SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway.
Former Vodafone Group CEO Sir Arun Sarin also participated in the round.
“Globally, Naspers identifies big areas of consumer spend that have not yet been significantly disrupted by technology and India e-commerce certainly fits the bill. We were attracted to Meesho because the team have built a uniquely Indian solution that utilizes the reach and scale the internet enables, and harnesses and makes it available for small sellers to better serve customers no matter where they live, for the benefit of all,” said Ashutosh Sharma, Head of India Investments, Naspers Ventures.
According to Naspers, Meesho’s phenomenal growth shows it has hit a sweet spot in the market and is well-poised to serve the next 500 million online shoppers in the country. Meesho will use the funds to new geographies, deepen its operations in existing geographies and build its technology platform to accommodate new product lines.
The firm will also grow its community of women entrepreneurs through funding and expertise and evolve its analytics and machine learning platforms to handle national scale.
With over 2 million ‘social sellers’ across 700 towns in India and a distribution channel for 15,000 suppliers in traditional manufacturing hubs, Meesho aims to create 20 million entrepreneurs by 2020 by connecting resellers to suppliers to curate a catalog of goods and services to sell.
The company also provides logistics and payment tools on the platform. These ‘social sellers’ then sell within their social networks on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.
According to Vidit Aatrey, Meesho Co-Founder and CEO, “I am particularly proud that Meesho has cut across gender, education levels, risk appetites and vocations to create livelihoods for people with no investment of their own. Our social sellers are small retailers, women, students and retired citizens, with 70% being homemakers who have found financial freedom and a business identity without having to step outside their homes.”
“We are delighted to welcome Naspers as our new investment partner. The company has a great track record in the Indian market, helping to support and build some of the leading Indian e-commerce businesses. We are excited to tap into their operational expertise scaling companies as we enter into our next stage of growth,” added Aatrey.
Founded by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal in December 2015, Meesho is India’s largest social commerce platform enabling individuals to start an online business with zero investment. Meesho has so far enabled 2,000,000+ social sellers across 700+ Indian towns to sell effectively on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram by providing products, and logistics and payment tools.