Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) uses strategic investment and focused technical assistance to strengthen the business side of commercial media.
Focusing on long-term relationships with clients, MDIF’s financial investments take a variety of approaches, including loans, equity investments, loan guarantees, and technical assistance grants. MDIF’s support can also include advice and assistance in business planning, media development, and technical support.
“MDIF’s clients are starved of capital because they work in environments with poorly developed banking systems, distorted markets and unfavorable investment climates. Often, they work in transition economies or under governments that are hostile to the idea of free and independent media. In all cases, a lack of funds is the main obstacle to their growth and development and seriously hampers their ability to be commercially viable and self-sustaining,” MDIF states on its website.
With its headquarters in New York City, MDIF is a registered not-for-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) public charity status. Since its inception in 1996, MDIF has invested more than $163 million in over 113 independent news businesses in 39 countries.
In the CIMA survey, each donor was asked to rate from high to low in terms of priority the types of media interventions it supports.
“MDIF invests in independent media companies in a range of countries where access to free and independent media is under threat. Clients are selected based on three broad criteria: mission impact in relation to investment; potential for long-term viability; editorial integrity,” MDIF states on its website.
In 2016, MDIF supported $3,700,000 in media development investments.
Its regional breakdown in support by percentage was:
Latin America 20 %
In contrast to how most donors in the media development space present themselves, MDIF states it actively seeks “new clients around the world with innovative ideas for expanding the availability of independently produced information for future investments.”
Media Development Investments in 2016
Since 2014, MDIF has invested several rounds of equity financing in Scroll.in to support its content and business development.
Scroll.in is an independent, India-based, mobile-first, digital magazine focused on in-depth political and cultural commentary. It is in contrast to the large conglomerates dominating India’s media market that often skew coverage to reflect the interests of their owners, political sponsors, and preferences of advertisers.
Scroll.in is a unique voice for readers who care about quality content and incisive political coverage.
In its short life, Scroll.in has built an audience of more than five million users per month. Its editorial content has been widely recognized, with its journalists being recognized for their reporting by the International Center for Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Colab.re is one of MDIF’s early-stage investments in digital news and information businesses that are helping to change the way the world interacts with information.
Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Colab.re is an app-based platform for citizens and governments to engage with each other. Launched in 2013, it allows people to report, make suggestions and provide direct feedback to government and allows governments to directly demonstrate civic accountability to their constituents by providing analytic and workflow tools. With more than 150,000 users, it was named World’s Best Urban App by the New Cities Foundation.
In 2016, for example, it launched a dedicated app to allow citizens to report outbreaks of Zika, dengue and chikungunya – all viral infections carried by mosquitoes. This enabled local authorities to have a better understanding of the breadth of the mosquito-spread epidemics and to take action to minimize standing water.
MDIF has worked with RTV21 since 2006 and provided it with new capital in 2016, after an earlier loan was repaid, to cover programming and capital expenditures.
RTV21 is Kosovo’s leading independent broadcaster, and is now also broadcasting in Macedonia, with 24-hour radio and TV channels and broadcasts on terrestrial, satellite and IPTV.
At the end of 2016, RTV21 was Kosovo’s most watched station in a country where media not supporting the government line are often subjected to financial intimidation, such as unwarranted tax inspections. RTV21’s robust business gives it the strength to continue providing non-partisan news and to maintain its independence from political control.
Report Author: Marguerite Sullivan
Last Updated: March 2018