Frontier Markets Consulting Pvt. Ltd, a startup that focuses on last-mile distribution in rural areas, has raised $2.25 million (about Rs 16.81 crore at current exchange rates) in pre-Series A funding.
The capital infusion was led by Engie Rassembleurs d’Energies, The Rise Fund and The Singh Family Trusts, Jaipur-based Frontier Markets said in a statement.
Other participants in the round include China- and Indonesia-based Teja Ventures and affiliates of the Beyond Capital Fund.
Engie Rassembleurs d’Energies is the impact investment arm of French energy giant Engie. The Rise Fund is the social impact investment arm of American private equity firm TPG. The Singh Family Trusts was advised by Artha Impact.
This is the second time the Engie arm has invested in Frontier Markets. In April last year, VCCircle exclusively reported that Engie had picked up a significant minority stake in the startup.
According to VCCEdge, the data research arm of Mosaic Digital, other investors in Frontier Markets include Seedfund, Rianta Capital and Acumen Fund.
The startup was set up in 2011 by Ajaita Shah, who had earlier worked with SKS Microfinance and Ujjivan Financial Services Ltd. The company initially focussed on running a distribution network to deliver solar-powered products. It uses a network of women entrepreneurs to market, sell and service products across rural parts of the country.
It will use the funding from this pre-Series A round to launch its business-to-consumer platform for digital services. It will also use the money for its own branded product line and pilot franchise expansions in new regions.
“We have a unique opportunity to drive innovative partnerships with digital service companies who are keen to access rural customers, as well as governments who want to add value to their constituents through women entrepreneurs,” Shah said.
Separately, Engie Rassembleurs d’Energies managing director Anne Chassagnette said the French multinational’s investment was in line with its strategy of promoting growth through sustainable businesses.
Frontier Markets says it is looking to grow its women-focussed entrepreneur network to more than one million by 2025, with the aim of serving over 100 million consumers in product categories including agriculture and insurance.