No financial details of the Facebook-Meesho deal were disclosed. (Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

Facebook Picks Up Minority Stake In Meesho In Second India Investment

Facebook Inc. has picked up a minority stake in Meesho, a Bengaluru-based Indian startup that helps entrepreneurs set up online businesses via social media, the U.S.-based social networking firm said on Thursday.

Financial details of the Facebook-Meesho deal were not disclosed.

"There are three reasons for making this investment. One, we are very excited by the founders and the team. Second is their focus on Tier II and III cities, so they sort of addressing the New India that's showing up on the internet beyond the large metros," said Ajit Mohan, vice president and managing director at Facebook India.

Another deciding factor was the base of two million resellers on Meesho's platform, of which about 80 percent are women entrepreneurs, he added. "It is fueling female entrepreneurship, and therefore driving the job creation agenda. So for us, we saw a huge opportunity for really, for us to play the role to be an ally for India's economic growth.”

Meesho has so far received $65 million in funding from a clutch of investors, including DST Partners, RPS Ventures, Shunwei Capital, SAIF Partners, Sequoia India and Y Combinator.

The Facebook-Meesho deal is the US-based firm’s second investment in India. In 2014, Facebook had acquired Hyderabad-based Little Eye Labs that built performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile app developers.

Meesho, a social commerce platform, provides small and independent entrepreneurs with products and tools to start and grow their businesses. It facilitates a three-way marketplace enabling resellers and micro-entrepreneurs across India to connect with potential buyers using social media.

The company has grown to 15,000 suppliers and 20 lakh resellers throughout India in the four years of its existence, said Vidit Aatrey, co-founder of Meesho.

"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," said Aatrey about the Facebook-Meesho deal.

Asked if Facebook would invest in more Indian startups, Mohan said the company is "open to explore conversations".

"We're not setting up an India fund. That means there's no deterministic model or timeline for investments that may come with setting up a fund...we're open to explore conversations, and impact will be the sole lens that we apply,” said Mohan. “(If) we feel there are opportunities and there are partners who see value in us being on the table and participating, we will explore that.”