MDIF rolls out $2.4m capacity building program for Burmese media

MDIF is rolling out a $2.4 million capacity building program for media in Myanmar, the Myanmar Media Program (MMP), funded by Sweden.

Preparations began in late 2015 and in January MDIF’s board selected 11 media organizations, out of 27 applicants, to join the program, which provides intensive tailored capacity building to help them establish financially sustainable quality news businesses.  All 11 media were chosen for their independence, potential impact and likelihood of long-term survival. They include ethnic media and comprise a mix of print, broadcast and digital, with local, national and international reach. Two to four are expected to become eligible for MDIF’s regular loan or equity financing over the course of the program.

“We regard this program as particularly timely, given the major political changes taking place, and are proud to be in a position to help ensure that Myanmar has the kind of robust independent media sector that this fledgling democracy needs and deserves,” said MDIF CEO Harlan Mandel.

A two-day meeting in Yangon in February brought together senior representatives from each of the 11 participating media with MDIF’s MMP team and the South East Asian media practitioners whom MDIF has identified as coaches. The latter have been chosen both for their relevant knowledge, skills and experience, as well as their commitment to assisting their Myanmar counterparts to not only survive but potentially also thrive in this highly competitive media environment.

The program, which is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, will continue over the coming months with a variety of in-house mentoring and training, covering topics ranging from business planning, financial management, advertising and marketing training, through to digital strategies, and others as required.

“What makes this program unique is its intensive and bespoke nature, as well as its flexibility,” said MDIF Asia Director Tessa Piper, who is overseeing the program. “The long-term one-on-one in-house coaching is designed to facilitate the development of an unusual depth of understanding about each media’s specific needs which, in turn, will enable us to tailor the mentoring to those needs. It also allows us to move at a pace that fits the capacity of each media. All of this should significantly increase the likelihood of long-lasting impact.”

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