(Source: MDLF, edited by Issa Sikiti da Silva). Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF), the investment fund supporting independent news businesses in countries with a history of media oppression, announced last week that it changed its name to Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).
The rebranding reflects the fund’s continued growth, a new structure and the introduction of new forms of financing and business support, the New York-based non-profit organisation CEO Harlan Mandel said in a statement.
“As MDLF, we’ve thrived for 17 years providing financing and business support to many of the most important sources of independent news in countries where people have limited access to impartial information,” Mandel said.
“Now, we’re putting ‘Investment’ at the heart of our name to better reflect the realities of what we do and what the future holds for us. Rebranding as MDIF aligns with the expanding range of financial and technical assistance we’re providing in an era of changing capital needs and rapid digitalisation of the news industry.”
MDIF’s new name is part and parcel of a new structure that will encompass multiple funds under MDIF management, the organisation said.
This will enable MDIF to finance a broader range of independent media companies, from innovative and experimental digital information start-ups to high-impact companies with proven businesses poised for expansion.
In 2012, MDIF launched Digital News Ventures which provides between 30 000 to 300 000 USD angel and early-stage equity investments in digital news start-ups. Digital News Ventures has invested more than 1 million USD in seven projects in its first year of operations,” Mandel claimed.
MDIF has worked with many leading news outlets in emerging and frontier markets, such as Mail & Guardian in South Africa, elPeriodico in Guatemala and Malaysiakini in Malaysia. “Replacing the word ‘loan’ with ‘investment’ encapsulates not only all our financial tools, but also our other ‘investments’ in clients: knowledge and human capital,” Mandel said.
“It communicates that MDIF’s mission is not just to get repaid, but to strengthen independent media and earn an additional kind of dividend – more free and more open societies.”
MDIF has invested in 91 media companies and 283 projects across 31 countries, writing off less than 3% of the total loaned and invested. From 1996 to 31 December 2012, MDIF said to provided 125.3 million USD in affordable financing, including:
- 110 million USD in loans and equity investments
- Approximately 14.8 million USD in technical assistance and other grants
- Earned over 37.4 million USD in interest, dividends and capital gains
- Collected more than 55.4 million USD in recovered principal invested
- 0.5 million USD through Digital Kiosk, the secure payment service for independent media
*Photo by Elena Popovic. Harlan Mandel, MDLF CEO