MDIF Ventures

MDIF Ventures invests in young and growing media companies with a positive social impact and the potential to scale. It focuses on projects located or serving audiences in countries where access to free and independent news and information is under threat.

What is MDIF Ventures?

MDIF Ventures builds on the success of our 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 funded ventures through a mixture of investments, grants and technical assistance.

Most MDIF Ventures equity investments will be made in media companies located in countries where access to free and independent news and information is under threat, but in exceptional cases it will also consider global projects with a demonstrated benefit for audiences in those countries. MDIF Ventures will invest in projects aimed at addressing accountability, strengthening debate, or reducing information poverty.

The MDIF Ventures equity financing will target 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. MDIF Ventures may choose to do follow-on investments in existing investees.

MDIF Ventures will deploy $1 million across approximately 12 companies in 2021. The deadline for the first round of applications is 21 June 2021. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Selection of MDIF early-stage investments

Eligibility for MDIF Ventures financing

MDIF Ventures will invest in the form of equity in projects aimed at addressing accountability, strengthening debate, or reducing information poverty. Consequently, the applicant – an existing media company or its founders in the case of a startup – must meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must have a commitment to the provision of unique, credible, independent news, reducing information poverty, addressing accountability, or strengthening debate in the public interest.
  • Applicants must have a commitment to the fostering of democratic practices and institutions, political pluralism, transparency, human rights, and dignity and equal rights for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion and other subjects of discrimination.
  • The applicant’s ownership must be independent from the government or any other political or economic interests. This condition may be waived with respect to an applicant where the level and nature of such ownership do not put the applicant’s editorial independence in question.
  • The project must be located or serve the audience in countries where access to free and independent news and information is under threat. MDIF Ventures is not able to consider entries from Russia.

Are you ready to apply?

Applicants who meet the above criteria may apply for MDIF Ventures equity financing by completing this form.

The deadline for our first round of applications is 21 June 2021.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis so please don't wait for the deadline if you are ready to submit.

For further information, see below the Frequently Asked Questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which countries do you invest in?

MDIF Ventures will consider applications from across the world, serving primarily audiences in countries where access to independent news and information is under threat. However, there are some jurisdictions where we are not able to operate, such as Russia.

How much will you invest in my company?

The amount we invest in each deal is dependent on many factors, including: stage of company development, total round-size, and location. When applying, please provide the total amount of money you are raising and how much of the round has already been raised (if any).

Can I get a grant or loan?

No, MDIF Ventures will not provide grants or loans. It will provide equity investments in selected media companies, taking an ownership stake.

Where do I apply?

Click here! We look forward to hearing from you.

Will an application submitted in a language other than English be considered?

While MDIF Ventures will invest in projects serving audiences of non-English speakers, the application itself should be in English.

When will I hear back from you?

You should get a request for further information or a follow-up meeting within 3 weeks of the application window closing.

Our fundraising round is closing soon and we’d like MDIF Ventures to participate in the round. Is it possible to get a quicker answer?

If you are raising a round and there is a deadline for when it needs to be closed, please let us know so we can try to accommodate you.

What other early stage media companies has MDIF invested in?

MDIF has 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.

I have another question that isn’t answered here.

If you have a question about the process or MDIF Ventures itself, please contact us through email.

Newsletters