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How WhatsApp is empowering small business in developing countries is truly remarkable

In the Western world, we use daily (ok.. every 5 minutes) WhatsApp to communicate with our friends, colleagues and business contacts and I believe that in the near future WhatsApp will make the email obsolete, in the same way that the email made the fax obsolete 20 years ago.

But the real power of WhatsApp relay on new business opportunities for small merchants (mainly poorly educated women) in the developing world.

A great example of this is,a Bangalore-based social commerce startup, has just raised $125 million in a new financing round to expand its business in the country and change the way millions shop online.

Meesho is an online marketplace that connects sellers with customers on social media platforms, mainly WhatsApp and Instagram.The company claims to have a network of more than 2 million resellers from 700 towns who largely deal with apparel, home appliances and electronics items.

These resellers are mostly homemakers, most of whom have purchased a smartphone for the first time in recent years. Eighty percent of Meesho’s user base is female.

More than 90% of businesses in India are still offline and unorganized. Meesho is trying to get these businesses, most of whom don’t have working capital to enable their own online presence, sell online.

Meesho 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.

Through WhatsApp they can find customers, execute the sale and take payments. No need for a bank account, a website or a sale force!

WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Pay at the end of 2018 and could follow WeChat Pay's blueprint of leaning on the popularity of its parent platform. WeChat Pay is a top player in China's mobile payment market, with 800 million monthly active users (MAU), and its success is largely due to it being part of WeChat's ecosystem, which boasts over 1 billion MAU. Being tied to platforms that consumers already use heavily makes it easier to convert them to payments users, and WhatsApp can do the same in India with its established user base.

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