Picture: BLOOMBERG/JASPER JUINEN
Picture: BLOOMBERG/JASPER JUINEN

Technology investor Prosus firmed up its investment in Indian start-up ElasticRun as it helped raise $75m (R1.07bn) in new funding for the logistics company.  

Prosus, listed by Naspers on the Euronext exchange in Amsterdam, is one of the top 10 largest technology investors in the world, with more than R200bn in its war chest. It is invested in digital companies operating in online payments, education, food delivery and online classifieds. 

Prosus Ventures, formerly Naspers Ventures, co-led a funding round for ElasticRun, a virtual logistics network and consumer products delivery business in India. The new investment round, led in partnership with Avataar Ventures, an Indian venture capital firm, will help the company expand its reach further into rural markets, enabling access for large consumer brands, food brands and e-commerce platforms to kirana shops. 

Kiranas are small, neighbourhood retail stores in India that are said to be the cornerstone of commerce in the country. 

ElasticRun says its commerce platform provides a range of physical and digital services to a potential market of 10-million rural kirana stores. With more than 12-million kirana shops across India and 10-million in rural areas, retails sales are expected to grow to $600bn over the next five years.  

This is not Prosus’s first investment in the Indian firm. In late 2019, Prosus led a $40m funding round that was meant to help ElasticRun expand its logistics network and gain market share in India’s $300bn logistics industry.

Ashutosh Sharma, head of investments for India at Prosus Ventures, said: “We are delighted to see the progress ElasticRun has made since we made our first investment 18 months ago.”

ElasticRun’s team “have more than weathered the extreme headwinds caused by the pandemic”, he said.

ElasticRun co-founder and CEO Sandeep Deshmukh said 2020 had seen one of the biggest growth spikes in its store network and e-commerce business.

“As we continue to extend our reach deeper into the country through our logistics and transaction platforms, we have also added new capabilities such as credit and analytics layers to the core platform. We expect 2021 to be our biggest year yet and are looking to more than triple our business over the next 12 months.”

Deal-focused company Prosus, Naspers’s international internet unit, has been putting its cash to use with a number of deals under its belt in recent weeks.  

Earlier this month, the group co-led a €223m (R3.842bn) investment round in Norwegian e-grocery business Oda. This was Prosus’s first direct investment in an online grocery business, a market the group expects to reach $1.1-trillion by 2027.

At the end of March, Prosus upped its stake in online food-delivery service Delivery Hero to just less than 25%, investing $2.2bn. The group remains the largest shareholder in Delivery Hero but has no intention of growing its stake for the next 12 months.

gavazam@businesslive.co.za

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