MDIF Ventures to invest $1m in young independent media companies

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MDIF has launched MDIF Ventures to invest $1 million in young and growing media companies with a positive social impact and the potential to scale.

MDIF Ventures will invest in projects located or serving audiences in countries where access to free and independent news and information is under threat. It will make equity investments in approximately 12 companies in 2021.

MDIF, a mission-driven not-for-profit investment fund for independent media with a 25-year track record, announced that the first round of applications is open until 21 June, 2021.

“We’re looking for the next generation of mission-focused media entrepreneurs,” said Mohamed Nanabhay, Deputy CEO of MDIF. “While there has been a lot of gloom around media business models, at MDIF we believe that despite tough media markets, there are opportunities for entrepreneurial operators to build media companies that are high impact and sustainable.

MDIF has previously made early stage investments in leading independent media companies worldwide, including Scroll.in, KataData, Malaysiakini, Mic, Hashtag Our Stories, Colab, Red/Acción, Volume, and OnionDev/GramVaani. MDIF early-stage companies have reached more than 50 million people in countries such as India, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil.

MDIF Ventures builds on MDIF’s Digital News Ventures fund, which from 2012 to 2015 invested $3.8 million in early-stage digital media companies, many of which have graduated to other forms of MDIF financing. It also draws on the more recent successful work of the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) and the Southeast Asia Technical Assistance Initiative (SEATAI), where MDIF supported organisations through a mixture of investments, grants and technical assistance.

Eligible media companies along the early-stage spectrum, from pre-seed (“friends and family” and angel rounds) through to participating in growth or Series A financing rounds, are invited to apply. Eligible media must have a commitment to public interest news and information, and ownership that is independent from governments and other political or economic interests. Projects must also be located or serve an audience in countries where access to free and independent news and information is under threat.


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