Manufacturers are looking for alternatives to China. For geopolitical reasons and in response to China’s long Covid lockdowns that crimped supply chains, businesses are searching elsewhere for new suppliers. India has become a prime location. In The Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha reports on India’s rise as a destination for manufacturing:
BENGALURU, India— In early 2020, as the pandemic was shutting down global commerce, a Pennsylvania company was having trouble getting its usual steel parts out of China. It stumbled on another possible option—in India.
Zetwerk, a two-year-old startup connecting customers and manufacturers within the country, had never handled a U.S. order, but tapped its network of suppliers and delivered the parts. It is now a provider of everything from nail clippers to steel frames for U.S. customers, and is valued at $2.7 billion, with funding from Greenoaks Capital,
India has been trying to lure some of the world’s biggest companies to set up new factories after repeated lockdowns under Beijing’s zero-Covid policy and rising geopolitical tensions with the West prompted many firms to look for alternatives to China, in a strategy referred to as “China plus one.”
Venture capital in India has taken note. Investors such as Peak XV, which was Sequoia Capital India until in June it announced a split from the U.S. firm, and Lightspeed are increasingly trying to back founders whose businesses involve boosting India’s global exports. Previously, they had focused on generations of Indian startups that primarily targeted the Indian consumer market.
Business-to-business e-commerce startups, such as Zetwerk, have seen increased deal activity in recent years, according to a PwC India report. Funding in that sector was more than three times as high in 2021 and 2022 as in the two years before that, according to data from Tracxn.
While VC funding has slowed in India in 2023, as it has in the U.S. and Europe, business-to-business investments remain one of the prime areas of financing in India.
“The supply-chain shocks were life-threatening,” for global businesses whose operations seized up during the pandemic, said Rahul Taneja, a partner at Lightspeed, which has made around three similar investments in India in the past year. “Founders saw this trend early enough and believed: ‘Why should I not leverage this tailwind?’”
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