Social commerce platform Mio to empower women in rural areas

May 20, 2021 | 18:13
Mio, a social commerce platform in Vietnam, has just announced closing an oversubscribed $1 million seed round co-led by leading venture capital firms Venturra Discovery and Golden Gate Ventures, with other major participants including iSeed SEA and Gokul Rajaram, among others.

Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, co-founders of Indian social commerce unicorn Meesho, also invested and will join Gokul Rajaram in becoming advisors to Mio CEO Trung Huynh.

Mio’s mission is to bring financial independence to women in lower-tier cities and rural areas by enabling them to become micro-entrepreneurs by acting as salse partners in community trade.

Mio was founded in June 2020 by Trung Huynh – former investment associate at IDG Ventures Vietnam, An Pham – former co-founder of SCommerce (formerly known as Giao Hang Nhanh), as well as Tu Le and Long Pham.

According to a 2019 paper by S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, an additional $4.5 trillion could be added annually to the total GDP of the Asia-Pacific region by 2025, just by accelerating the female participation in the economy. In Southeast Asia, female micro-entrepreneurs play a significant role in the rural economies of today.

Mio, as one of the most exciting Vietnamese social commerce platforms, is leading this movement in Vietnam where the ”housewife reseller” market in lower-tier regions have been underserved for years, in favour of big players like Tiki and Shopee.

Mio has enabled hundreds of entrepreneurs, mostly women of 25-35 years old in Vietnam’s lower-tier regions to create their own professional identity, grow their businesses, increase income, and become agents of change in their communities.

social commerce platform mio to empower women in rural areas
Mio's leader team

In Vietnam, rural consumers account for 63 per cent of the population and 60 per cent of the total GDP. They represent a large market opportunity as e-commerce players have traditionally sidelined the lower-tier markets for having rudimentary logistics infrastructure that made them costly to fulfil.

Social media remains the most popular online activity in Vietnam’s rural areas and overall online shopping penetration for rural Vietnam in 2020 is 46 per cent, showing sharp growth with a 17 per cent increase from 2018.

Mio empowers women in lower-tier regions of Vietnam to launch, build, and promote their online business on Mio platform – and all of this without any investment.

Mio aims to win e-commerce in lower-tier cities in Vietnam by creating an alternate distribution channel through agents, who use social media channels, such as Facebook, Zalo, TikTok, and Instagram to reach end consumers, who are often the agents’ neighbours and families.

Mio empowers women in lower-tier regions of Vietnam to launch, build, and promote their online business on Mio platform – and all of this without any investment.

Mio also supports them with training, order management, fulfilment, and logistics through focusing on product quality, pricing, and personalisation to help resellers improve their sales and customer service. Hundreds of Mio’s micro-entrepreneurs are making an extra VND2 million($87) to VND8 million ($348) per month, which is substantial given that their monthly incomes are less than VND8 million.

social commerce platform mio to empower women in rural areas
Mio aims to expand to more localities in Vietnam, helping to bolster financial independence for women in rural areas

“We are excited to partner with Mio in their mission of providing affordable products to Vietnamese people by building a new distribution channel from micro-entrepreneurs, many of them women,” said Meesho’s co-founder and CEO Vidit Aatrey. “We are very impressed by Mio’s management team, and strongly believe that CEO Trung Huynh and his team can build one of the most legendary companies in Vietnam.”

Meesho’s co-founder and CTO Sanjeev Barnwal shared: “We are amazed by the product that the Mio team has built in such a short span and impressed by their tech-first approach towards problem-solving and scaling the business.”

Mio’ seed capital will be used to invest in distribution centres, hire more people for its tech and product teams in order to build a suite of new customer acquisition and selling tools.

The startup also plans to add more personalisation options for its resellers and product categories. With this fresh funding, Mio aims to partner with thousands of more agents and expand to more provinces in Vietnam, giving financial independence to women in Vietnamese rural areas.

By Anh Duc

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