Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has stepped up his aggressive push into India by joining forces with a $250 million Chinese venture capital fund called Ganesh Ventures that will be its strategic investment partner here. The India-focussed fund, which seeks to build a strong network between Indian entrepreneurs and Chinese investors and entrepreneurs, has made its first close of $30 million backed by Mas ambitious eWTP Ecosystem Fund and Hong Kong-based Landmark Capital.
Ganesh Ventures will look to deploy its entire corpus in domestic startups over the next 3-5 years, beginning with companies in the media, technology, consumer products, financial technology and health technology sectors. It will set up offices in Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Hong Kong and Beijing and intends to finalise half a dozen deals this year. We want to engage not just at the early stage but also at growth stage, said Jessica Wong, managing partner of Ganesh Ventures.
Named by Wong after the elephantheaded god who is the first to be worshipped at any auspicious event as per Hindu scriptures, Ganesh Ventures will be eWTPs strategic investment partner in Indiaa key market for the latters international plan. The anchor investor in Ganesh Ventures, eWTP (Electronic World Trade Platform) was launched in May as a $600 million cross-border fund to drive strategic investments to help companies accelerate their international expansions and to support technology innovations. It is backed by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group and its subsidiary Ant Financial, and helmed by Yu Yongfu, former chairman of Alibabas Digital Entertainment Group.
Alibaba Groups India portfolio includes domestic market leaders digital payments platform Paytm and online grocery BigBasket.
Wong was a founding partner of Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Cyber Carrier, which has invested about $30 million in several Indian startups including KrazyBee, Zoomcar, Indialends, HappyEasyGo, GigIndia, and BeYouPlus.
Cyber Carriers investments in India have yielded absolute returns of more than 300%, said Wong, with a profitable partial exit from Krazy-Bee in October when Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi and venture capital fund Shunwei Capital invested in the student-lending platform.
Weve been testing the waters in India for some time and have gained a valuable understanding of the market. The success we have achieved so far with our partners and portfolio strengthens our confidence to engage with more stakeholders and enhance our portfolio, said Wong. Ganesh Ventures made its first investment in India in fin-tech firm IndiaLends, originally a portfolio company under the Cyber Carrier fund, ET reported on Monday.
With ticket sizes spanning $500,000-$5 million, Ganesh Ventures seeks to connect Indian entrepreneurs with the Chinese startup ecosystem and stakeholders to tap into cross-border resources, exchange learnings, and achieve market synergies. It has received commitments from institutional investors in Europe and Southeast Asia as well for its entire corpus.
Chinese (investors) support not just through equity and debt financing but also operationally and technology-wise, said Navin Honagudi, managing director at Kae Capital, which has co-invested with Chinese venture capital firm Shunwei Capital in some of its portfolio firms. They are very focussed on a few sectors that they are comfortable with and dont spread themselves too thin. From that perspective, if they invest such large sums of money, backed by such pedigree investors, a sizeable impact (or growth) will not take more than 2-3 years to be seen among Indian startups.
Indias large market has made it an obvious destination for Chinese investors, with several Chinese venture capital funds scouting for and aggressively increasing bets in the Indian startup ecosystem.