Facebook India on Thursday said it has invested in a social commerce start-up, Meesho, which connects buyers and sellers on social media platforms. The investment comes at a time when the US-based tech major is exploring avenues to monetise applications like WhatsApp and services like Marketplace, which was launched last year.
“This is Facebook’s first investment in an India-based start-up, and is a strong demonstration of the company’s commitment to the country’s vibrant internet ecosystem,” Facebook said, adding that Meesho is a platform that enables Indian entrepreneurs to establish online businesses through social channels.
The Bengaluru-based start-up provides small and independent entrepreneurs with products and tools to start, maintain and grow their businesses. It offers a three-way marketplace enabling re-sellers, SMBs and micro-entrepreneurs across India to connect with potential buyers using social media. A majority of these entrepreneurs are women, it added. Facebook’s investment will aid Meesho to expand its efforts in enabling independent entrepreneurs to build businesses and grow their customer base through social channels.
Commenting on the development, Facebook India managing director Ajit Mohan said, “We are excited about India and its rapidly rising internet ecosystem. With this investment in Meesho, we want to fuel a business model that can result in rapid job creation and rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India. We love that the company is translating the power of online communities to expand economic opportunity for all of India, and especially women.”
Meesho co-founder Vidit Aatrey said that over the last four years, the start-up has grown from humble beginnings at IIT to 15,000 suppliers and 20 lakh resellers across India. “We share a common goal with Facebook — to enable community and help small businesses grow,” he added.
Before this investment, the start-up had raised around $65 million from a clutch of investors including Shunwei Capital, Sequoia India and SAIF Partners.
The investment is well timed for Facebook, which is trying to monetise WhatsApp in India for small and medium business. The company is also running a pilot of its payments service on the instant messaging app. Besides, Facebook Marketplace is another feature launched by the social media giant to leverage the growing digital services space in India and to generate more revenues from the world’s second largest smartphone market. India is an important market for Facebook and WhatsApp, which accounts for more than 20% of their respective userbases.