News and Information | March 10, 2021

Reliable digital media is fertile ground for Media Development Investment Fund

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

ImpactAlpha, Mar. 10 – The push: Government-backed media outlets and oligarch-vested interests are pushing down trust in journalism around the world. The pull: The rise of subscriptions, memberships and audience willingness to pay have created workable models of digital media.

“Those that build businesses around the mission of providing reliable, quality, usable information – that’s a very attractive business model,” Media Development Investment Fund’s Peter Whitehead told ImpactAlpha.

The New York-based nonprofit investor has fully deployed its $12.9 million private equity fund in nearly a dozen media outfits in India, Brazil, Indonesia and other countries hostile to a free press. MDIF closed the Emerging Media Opportunity Fund in early 2019.

The independent media portfolio includes Sheroes, an India-based social media platform for women with 22 million users; Josh Talks, another India-based media platform mobilizing youth for good; and Suara, an Indonesia-based news outlet.

Earlier investments included one of India’s leading digital news publishers; Indonesia’s Katadata, a data-driven business and finance news publisher; and Colab, a platform in Brazil that helps citizens hold local governments accountable.

The ventures reach a combined audience of more than 118 million. More impact investors understand the case for independent media, says Idriss Nor of Stichting DOEN, which anchored the fund. Free and pluralist media is “crucial to an environment where education will become better, but also economies.”

The Dutch foundation challenged MDIF to tie its carried-interest compensation to a range of mission-aligned indicators, including responsible exits.