Last month, Facebook injected $25 million in Meesho as his first investment in the India. Just a month since then, we have learnt that Meesho has raised $125 million — 5 times more — in its Series D.
The round was led by Naspers, which also saw existing investors add to the capital injection, including Facebook, SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway.
With this round being the largest amount it has raised, Meesho’s total funding till date stands at $215.2 million.
The Bangalore-based four-year-old Indian startup essentially enables people to do e-commerce transactions through WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram — all entities owned by Facebook.
Meesho claims to have a network of more than 2 million resellers in 700 towns. With the latest funding, it aims to expand its reach to add 18 million new sellers by the end of 2020.
The startup also claims that 70 percent of its user base are women, most of whom are homemakers selling clothing, home appliances and electronic items.
India is a unique market that has such a network of women resellers. There are many who purchase items from China, Bangkok and Hong Kong, have it shipped to their homes, and resell them to people through their neighbours and friend circles.
“I always wanted to do something and be able to earn myself. With responsibility of children, that did not happen earlier. But now since they have grown up, I have a lot of time on my hands. Selling bedsheets and blankets keeps me busy, and earns me a small income. I didn’t know I would get such a good response, my business has grown a lot in the past few years with WhatsApp.”Komal Shah, a reseller of bedding in Mumbai.
The story of Komal is similar to many in India who have aspirations to earn for themselves and be financially independent, but never worked due to cultural and familial expectations of them to be homemakers.
Women prefer buying from their trusted connections as they have stronger faith in the quality of products, which sellers do not compromise on so as to not lose face in society.
While this business model is largely unorganised, it has grown significantly in the past 10 years, giving serious competition to the local businessmen who have shops and employ people.
One of the key reasons it started growing was the lack of overheads, which meant the women could sell at lower rates — something society needed with rising costs, inflation, and need to save money during the recession — and keep smaller profit margins that would go entirely to themselves. A win-win situation for many women.
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.Vidit Aatrey, Co-Founder and CEO of Meesho
“The latest investment will also strengthen Meesho’s aim to grow its community of women entrepreneurs who have dreamt of running their own businesses but lacked the funds and expertise to do so,” Meesho said in a statement.
It also plans to develop its technology platform with the help of its new funds, so as to support new product lines. Nine months ago, when it raised its $50 million Series C, it revealed it was looking to develop a supply chain in China with the help of its investor Shunwei, and could potentially start selling own brand products via the platform.
As per statements issues earlier, once Meesho grows stronger in India, we could see it expand to the Latin American and South East Asian markets that operate much in the same way as we’ve seen in India.