NEW DELHI: acebook said on Thursday it has invested in Meesho, a Bengaluru-based startup promoting female entrepreneurship, marking its second investment in India.
Ajit Mohan, vice-president and managing director, Facebook India, who made the announcement over a video conference call, did not disclose the amount of the investment but said the tech giant had bought a minority stake.
“Facebook is an ally for India’s economic growth and social development. 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 the rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India," Mohan added.
In July 2014, Facebook acquired Little Eye Labs, a Bengaluru-based startup that makes a software tool to analyse the performance of Android apps, for a reported $10-15 million.
Meesho, founded by Indian Instituite of Technology-Delhi graduates Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, facilitates an innovative three-way marketplace enabling resellers, small and medium businesses (SMBs), and micro-entrepreneurs across India to connect with potential buyers using social media.
Two things drove Facebook to invest in Meesho, said Mohan.
First, its model is growing outside of the metros with a focus on tier II and III cities where new internet users are based. Second, and more importantly, it has two million resellers, more than 80% of whom are women. Most of them are starting a business for the first time, thus boosting female entrepreneurship, Mohan said.
Aatrey said: “Over the last four years we’ve grown from our humble beginnings at IIT, to 15,000 suppliers and two million resellers throughout India. We share a common goal with Facebook—to enable community and help small businesses grow. This commitment from Facebook will help us leapfrog towards our goal."
Going forward, Mohan said investing in startups that focus on creating growth for SMBs will be a conscious strategy for Facebook as it sees this route as an opportunity to drive India’s economic growth and social development.
Over the years, Facebook has been working closely with SMBs to help them grow their businesses.
Mohan said he believes that SMBs can have a huge impact on the India growth story. Facebook wants to go a step further to strengthen the entire ecosystem for SMBs in the country, he added.