June 13, 2019 / 1:08 PM / 7 days ago

Facebook to buy stake in Indian e-commerce start-up Meesho

FILE PHOTO: India's flag seen through a 3D printed Facebook logo in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Facebook is buying a stake in Indian e-commerce start-up Meesho, the head of the U.S. tech giant’s Indian business said on Thursday, looking to deepen its reach in one of the world’s biggest internet markets.

Meesho, a digital platform on which re-sellers of everything from jewelry to mobile phones reach prospective customers via social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, already has about 2 million entrepreneurs focused on India’s smaller towns and cities, the vice-president and managing director at Facebook India told Reuters.

“It reflects the new India that is showing up on the Internet,” Ajit Mohan added.

He declined to disclose the value of Facebook’s investment in Meesho or the size of the stake it is acquiring.

The investment will help Meesho to further its “efforts to enable independent entrepreneurs to build businesses and grow their customer base via social channels”, Meesho said on its website.

Meesho, founded by two engineering graduates in 2015, has raised more than $65 million in funding and counts Shunwei Capital and DST Partners among its backers.

Mohan said Facebook’s investment will help Meesho to maximize its impact on a central plank of India’s economic growth agenda by supporting job creation through entrepreneurship.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, its WhatsApp messenger app and Twitter have come under intense scrutiny in India as the federal government looks to tighten rules that could require the companies to monitor online content around the clock.

India will hold wide consultations with internet companies before finalizing rules to regulate content on social media, New Delhi has said previously.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by David Goodman

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