JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Indian digital platform Meesho has raised $125 million in its latest funding round, led by South African internet group Naspers, the e-commerce start-up said on Monday.
Cape Town-based Naspers is in the midst of deploying a close to $10 billion war chest to scale up its e-commerce ventures and make new investments in online classifieds, payments and food delivery platforms.
U.S. tech giant Facebook also took part in the funding round, together with existing Meesho investors SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway. Former Vodafone Group Chief Executive Sir Arun Sarin also participated.
The Meesho platform allows re-sellers of everything from jewellery to mobile phones to reach prospective customers via social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
It has built a network of more than 2 million sellers across 700 towns in India and created a disruptive distribution channel for 15,000 suppliers in traditional manufacturing hubs. The company has a mission to create 20 million entrepreneurs by 2020.
The new funds will allow Mesho to expand further outside India's major metropolitan regions, reaching remote customers not serviced by traditional e-commerce marketplaces, Naspers said in a statement.
Meesho also plans to extend its platform to accommodate new product lines.
Naspers said the investment, in addition to funding for education technology start-up BYJU'S and online food delivery business Swiggy, shows it is committed to India across multiple sectors.
"Globally, Naspers identifies big areas of consumer spend that have not yet been significantly disrupted by technology, and India e-commerce certainly fits the bill," said Ashutosh Sharma, head of India investments at Naspers Ventures.
"We were attracted to Meesho because the team have 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."
Naspers' other investments in India include online classifieds business OLX, online travel company MakeMyTrip and payments business PayU.
Meesho co-founder and CEO Vidit Aatrey welcomed Naspers' involvement, citing the South African company's previous experience in Indian e-commerce.
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by David Goodman)