Chilibeli raises $10m at Series A to turn Indonesia’s housewives into fresh produce resellers


Jakarta-based social commerce startup Chilibeli has raised $10 million in a funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Alto Partners, Golden Gate Ventures, Kinesys Group, and Sequoia Capital’s Surge accelerator also participated in the round.

Chilibeli is a group-buying network that aims to connect farmers and suppliers directly to consumers. To achieve this, it offers consumers the chance to become casual, part-time agents (mitra in Indonesian) who buy produce in bulk and sell it on to fellow consumers in their neighborhood at competitive prices.

The startup claims it gives these agents – many of which are housewives – an opportunity to become micro-entrepreneurs, empowering themselves and their local communities and increasing their household wealth by providing an alternate source of income.

According to Chilibeli, groceries make up about 20% of expenditure for the average Indonesian family, where women are typically in charge of household spending. It saw an opportunity to benefit consumers by offering groceries at prices lower than local markets and supermarkets, while simultaneously giving housewives the chance to make some extra money.

Prospective agents just need to download Chilibeli’s app and sign up. Once they’re registered, they can begin to buy fresh produce from farmers at better-than-retail rates. Once the goods are delivered, they can send these on to end consumers, who place their orders via the app.

Since launching in July last year, Chilibeli says its business has grown 150% month-on-month, while creating over 300 direct employment opportunities and “thousands of indirect jobs” for its Mitra Chilibeli.

Co-founder and CEO Alex Feng said in a statement that the Series A capital will be used to further expand the company’s presence in the Greater Jakarta region.

“On top of that, we continue to improve the UI and UX of our application […] The strong backing from renowned investors has been crucial in strengthening and helping scale our future growth [to] continue to make a meaningful and positive impact to Indonesian society,” he added.

“The company will continue to listen to feedback, innovate, and add user-friendly features to enhance the overall experience.”

Explaining his firm’s decision to lead the Series A round, Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Akshay Bhushan said that Chilibeli’s similarity to successful social commerce models elsewhere in the world was an important factor.

“Our conviction […] comes from having invested and helped scale several multi-billion-dollar valued social and commerce platforms globally in China, India, and the US, such as Pinduoduo, Udaan, Snapchat, and Sharechat,” he said in a statement.

“The power of the Chilibeli […] platform comes from empowering local communities across the emerging middle class in Indonesia through access to affordable and value products, while driving livelihoods for various stakeholders […] such as farmers, housewives, and small businesses in these communities,” he added.

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