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World Bank invests in online retail in developing economies

BERLIN (Reuters) - The World Bank's private-sector arm is investing up to 25 million euros ($34.18 million) in two online retailers, Lamoda in Russia and Dafiti in Latin America, the latest fundraising success for German venture capital firm Rocket Internet.

The bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) will invest up to 15 million euros in Dafiti and up to 10 million in Lamoda, acknowledging the importance of the retail sector for developing economies.

"Internet companies are speeding up modernization of the retail supply chain in developing countries, which promotes consumer spending -- a key component of economic growth," Atul Mehta, an IFC director, said in a statement.

"Their investments in logistics, information technology and marketing are rapidly generating employment, especially for women and young people."

Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based venture capital group behind booming European fashion e-tailer Zalando, has raised hundreds of millions of euros of funding in the last year for a raft of online retailers it has launched across the globe.

While still relatively undeveloped compared with the United States and western Europe, e-commerce is starting to grow rapidly in emerging markets as Internet access improves, helped by the rapid spread of smartphones.

Dafiti, launched in 2011 with a focus on Brazil, is also active in Colombia, Chile and Mexico. Its other investors include Sweden's Kinnevik, Canada's Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, Quadrant Capital Advisors and JP Morgan.

Lamoda, which launched in Russia in 2011 and expanded to Kazakhstan in 2012, said the IFC investment would help it expand its courier service, which allows it to offer next-day delivery of 900 brands of clothing, shoes and accessories to 25 cities.

Its investors include billionaire American industrialist Leonard Blavatnik, Kinnevik, Summit Partners, JP Morgan and German retail group Tengelmann.

(Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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