Building on the success of its first $1 million investment round, MDIF Ventures is investing another $1 million in young and growing independent media companies with positive social impact and potential to scale. Again, the fund is calling for applications from promising media ventures, focusing on projects located or serving audiences in countries where access to free and independent news and information is under threat.
In June 2021 MDIF Ventures opened its first call for applications from early-stage media companies. At close two months later, more than 200 independent media from dozens of countries had applied. Of those, eight companies from seven countries went on to secure investment and venture support to help accelerate their business development.
“The quality of applications in the first call and the clear need for early-stage media financing have led us to launch another $1 million investment round,“ said Majka Nemcova, MDIF Chief Operating Officer. “Again, we are looking for dynamic media companies that are showing social impact and strong signs of progress in challenging environments.”
Geographically, first-round investments are spread globally, with three in Africa, three in Asia and two in Latin America. “In the first round, MDIF Ventures enabled us to invest in two countries that we hadn’t worked in before, Mozambique and Pakistan, and we are hoping the second round will allow us to continue extending the scope of our portfolio,” said Nemcova.
MDIF Ventures also allows MDIF to consider companies at an earlier stage than its regular portfolio; media anywhere on the early-stage spectrum, from pre-seed (“friends and family” and angel rounds) through to participating in growth or Series A financing rounds, are eligible to apply.
Impact and business potential
The second round of MDIF Ventures will have the same twin focus on positive social impact and the business potential of the company, which encompasses a diverse spread of business models and approaches to information-sharing.
“While the basis of working with MDIF is quality news and information, we saw companies take very different approaches to reaching and interacting with audiences,” said Bilal Randeree, MDIF Program Director for Africa & MENA. “For example, Dataphyte is emerging as a data-journalism leader in Nigeria, using innovative processes and tools to conduct impactful investigations. At the same time, its investigations have been republished by local and international publications, encouraging journalists across Nigeria to increase coverage of corruption and amplifying the impact of its work.”
Other MDIF Ventures’ investees have demonstrated the same commitment to business and impact and are making a mark on local communities. “In Africa, Zitamar overcomes distribution challenges in Mozambique with a newsletter-first approach, while The Republic in Nigeria has been nominated won awards from One World Media and Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge,” says Randeree. “Ventures has also enabled us to invest in not one, but two candidates in Nigeria, a strategic and important market on the continent and a country where we already have our Nigeria Media Innovation Program.”
Successful applicants from the first round of investments ranged from digital news providers and newsletter creators to podcast production companies and innovators of data visualization tools:
The Current, Pakistan, News platform: A platform aimed at Pakistan’s millennials that covers news, entertainment and lifestyle.
Dataphyte, Nigeria, Data analytics: Media, research and data analytics company that has built a leading data journalism platform, multiple data-focused newsletters, an enterprise data merchandise platform and a data training academy platform.
Datasketch, Colombia/US, Data visualization: A technology startup that provides small organisations and individuals with access to data visualization tools and facilitates knowledge-sharing to promote informed debate.
The Morning Context, India, News platform: A research and media company that provides original, deeply researched and analytical long-form stories and curated newsletters with an India-specific, public interest lens.
MyNews, Brazil, Video: A media channel with programs on YouTube in various formats, including debates, interviews and columns, mainly on politics, economics and finance.
PumaPodcast, Philippines, Podcast production: A regional leader in podcasting and audio production, it delivers entertaining, engaging and compelling content that is anchored in the idea of empowering people with information.
The Republic, Nigeria, Digital magazine: Online magazine and platform centering on Nigeria and Africa and the world’s most critical social, political and economic issues.
Zitamar News, Mozambique, Investigative news: An English-language investigative news website and newsletter, which also produces audio news bulletins in several Mozambican languages to bring reliable news to under-served communities.
“We’re excited about the innovative businesses that we’ll meet through the second call for applications,” said Nemcova. “The first round allowed us to make contact with scores of excellent young media companies and to extend our footprint and we have every reason to believe that the response to this call for applications will be just as impressive.”
To apply and for more information, click here.