Naspers leads $125m in funding for Indian e-commerce platform Meesho

Naspers [JSE:NPN] has taken the lead in raising $125m in funds for India's Meesho, an e-commerce marketplace. 

Other investors include Facebook, SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS, Venture Highway and former Vodafone Group CEO Arun Sarin. 

Meesho describes itself as a "social commerce online marketplace" that "enables independent resellers to build small businesses by connecting them with suppliers to curate a catalog of goods and services to sell". The "social sellers" then sell on social networks WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

In a statement on Monday, Meesho said it has a network of more than two million social sellers in 700 towns across India. Its current focus is on apparel, home, wellness and electronic goods. 

The company aims to use the $125m raised to grow outside India's major metro regions, improve its technology platform and boost its data analysis capabilities. 

Meesho co-founder and CEO Vidit Aatrey said in a statement that the e-commerce platform helps create jobs."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."

Aatrey said, despite the rapid growth of e-commerce in India, over 90% of Indians do not use it. 

"They want online shopping that enables them to buy from small businesses they trust. Meesho provides a way for these customers to get what they need – and we believe it is the future of online shopping for the next 500 million consumers."

Naspers Ventures' head of India investments Ashutosh Sharma said the global internet group had identified areas of consumer spend that have not yet been significantly disrupted by technology, and e-commerce in India fits the bill.

"We were attracted to Meesho because the team has built a uniquely Indian solution that utilises 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 Sharma.

"The phenomenal growth they are already experiencing shows that Meesho has hit a sweet spot in the market and is well-poised to serve the next 500 million online shoppers in the country."

* Fin24 is part of 24.com, a division of Media24, which is a subsidiary of Naspers.