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Track record

MDIF has a 22-year track record of investing in independent media that provide the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies around the world. We provide affordable debt and equity supported by tailored technical assistance to help independent media develop sustainable businesses, strong enough to hold governments to account, expose corruption, promote transparency and compete with state and oligarch media.

Since 1996, MDIF has invested in 113 independent media businesses in 39 countries with a history of media oppression, providing $169.2 million in financing, including $147.8 million in loans and equity investments, $20.8 million in technical assistance and TA grants and $0.6 million through Digital Kiosk, the secure payment service for independent media.

With a loss rate of 10.8% of the total invested, MDIF has received back over $70.4 million in recovered principal invested, while earning more than $41.5 million in interest, dividends and capital gains, and returning over $45.9 million to investors.

$169.2 million
of total financing
over 22 years

media companies
in 39 countries

Track record summary table

Cumulative 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (unaudited)
Assets Under Management n/a $47.9m $42.2m $39.9m $67.0m $71.7m
Number of total clients 113 59 66 53 49 48
Number of new clients n/a 6 11 2 4
Number of countries 39 25 32 28 28 26
New investments made $147.8m $5.3m $3.3m $1.5m $3.8m¹ $3.7m
Principal recovered $70.4m $3.9m $2.9m $3.2m $3.0m $1.96m
Interest, dividends & capital gains collected $41.5m $1.1m $856K $576K $1.2m $917K
Returned to investors $45.9m $7.0m $1.6m $3.6m $6.4m $9.1m

¹Taking account of the MDIF Media Partners investment in Agora, which is managed by MDIF, in total we deployed well over $20 million in capital in 2016, a new high-water mark for MDIF.

Portfolio size, 2013-2017
Portfolio size, 2013-2017
Number of clients, 2013-2017
Number of clients, 2013-2017


We ended December 31, 2017 with over $71.7 million total Assets Under Management, invested in 48 companies in 26 countries. Year on year, our total Assets Under Management increased by 6.9% compared to 2016 and up 79.2% from 2015.

MDIF operates its investments through a fund structure that in 2017 encompassed MDIF General Fund (MDIF GF), MDIF Media Finance I (MMF I, loan fund), MDIF Media Partners (MP, investing in Polish media company Agora SA), and a private equity fund of MDIF.

In 2017, MIDF provided $5.6 million in media financing, extending $3.7 million in loans and equity and $1.9 million in technical assistance and TA grants. We approved 11 investments for 10 companies across 8 countries, welcoming 4 new clients to our portfolio.

We also returned $9.1 million to investors, a 42.4% increase over 2016. Principal recovered decreased by 35.0% to $1.9 million, with several clients operating in challenging economic environments. Collections of interest, dividends and capital gains totaled $917,464. We also wrote off two investments totaling $1 million in two companies.

$71.7 million
in 48 companies

11 new
investments in 2017

Assets Under Management, 2013-2017
Assets Under Management, 2013-2017
New investments by fund, 2017
New investments by fund, 2017

Countries we work in

As of December 2017, MDIF held debt and equity investments in companies in 26 countries. The largest share of our investments — 53.9% — was in South East and Eastern Europe, followed by Africa at 19.0% and Asia at 11.0%. In 2017, we did not extend our operations to any new country, although we are examining potential investments in several new locations.

MDIF’s Assets Under Management by region

Current investments
Current investments
Cumulative investments
Cumulative investments

Countries where MDIF has provided financing


Botswana, Lesotho, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal

Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia

Outlets with global reach based in the Netherlands and USA

At the end of 2017, 91.8% of MDIF’s outstanding investments were in countries where the media environment is partly free or not free — that is those categorized as “problematic,” and “bad” and “very bad” by The World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders. Additionally, 53.4% of our investments were in countries struggling with serious corruption problems, that is, those that scored lower than 50 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

The chart on the right presents portfolio allocations by country by RWB’s World Press Freedom Index and by TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index, showing a concentration of MDIF investments in countries with restrained press freedom and a reputation for corruption. The further an investment is to the right, the less free the country, and the lower on the chart, the more corrupt the country is perceived to be. The size of the circle corresponds to the size of the investment.

Legend for press freedom index
MDIF’s investments under management by press freedom and corruption perceptions
MDIF’s investments under management by press freedom and corruption perceptions

Client developments

For MDIF, our clients and independent media globally, 2017 was another turbulent period. Amid widespread threats to journalists and media outlets, global press freedom recorded a troubling decline, as measured by The World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders. In fact, nearly a third of countries MDIF had investments in 2017 dipped in their press freedom index in comparison to 2016. Throughout the year, our clients continued to face political pressure and other forms of intimidation. Examples include:

Malaysia NOT FREE

Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Ranking: 145

Malaysia on globeIn Malaysia, the Court of Appeal ordered news site Malaysiakini to pay 350,000 ringgit (approximately US$88,000) in damages and costs to an Australian mining company. In what appeared to be a political move ahead of the general election scheduled for 2018, the appeal court overturned a finding that the reporting on mining contamination was motivated by public interest. A Malaysiakini appeal to readers raised the full libel award in just 12 days.

Myanmar NOT FREE

Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Ranking: 137

Myanmar on globeIn Myanmar, three reporters from two news businesses taking part in our Myanmar Media Program spent more than two months in jail. Democratic Voice of Burma reporters Aye Nai and Pyae Phone Naing, and Lawi Weng of The Irrawaddy magazine were arrested by the military in northern Shan State after reporting on a drugs-burning ceremony in an area controlled by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army. In September the military dropped the charges and the journalists were released.

Despite the challenges facing independent media, our clients carried out their journalistic activity with continued ambition and skill, receiving awards for their reporting, professionalism and courage. Half of MDIF-supported media organizations surveyed as a part of our annual questionnaire reported receiving awards in 2017. Out of those presented with prizes, 73% were recognized with national awards, 20% with local awards and 20% with international awards.

Tomasz Piątek

Tomasz Piątek

Agora, Poland

Reporters Without Borders’ Journalist of the Year

Malini Subramaniam

Malini Subramaniam

Scroll, India

Oxfam Novib/PEN Freedom
of Expression Award

Pontsho Pilane

Pontsho Pilane

Mail & Guardian, South Africa

impactAfrica Best Community Impact Award

Jelena Jovanović

Jelena Jovanović

Vijesti, Montenegro

EU Award for Investigative Journalism




PRESSzvanie Award
for business journalism




Zimbabwe Digital Award
for Best News Website




IMA Awards for Best Weekend
& Morning Formats

Patricia Politzer

Patricia Politzer

El Mostrador, Chile

Lenka Franulic Women’s
Journalism Award

Social Impact

In mission terms, our clients continued to impact positively on their societies, in particular by reporting on corruption and accountability, elections and social issues. Examples of the concrete impact, in these three areas are presented below. More information on the impact of MDIF-supported media can be found in our Impact Dashboard published later in 2018.

Corruption and Accountability:

Mail & Guardian reports on state capture

In South Africa, Mail & Guardian’s articles scrutinized the inner workings of the Gupta family, which was accused of exerting undue influence and looting billions of rand in taxpayer funds. Leaked e-mails revealed that in an effort to stop the Mail & Guardian’s reporting, which was pivotal in their exposure, the Guptas considered buying the newspaper in a James Bond-style “Project M” and turning it into a puppet paper. South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation initiated an investigation into the Guptas, who deny wrongdoing and say they are victims of a “politically motivated witch-hunt”. When Jacob Zuma was removed from office, allegations intensified and investigations into their corruption and exercising undue influence multiplied, leading to the Gupta family starting to sell their assets in the country.

Social issues:

Malaysiakini exposes human trafficking

In collaboration with Indonesian news weekly Tempo, Malaysiakini published a series of articles on the human trade and trafficking of women from Indonesia to Malaysia. The series combined months of groundwork across the two countries, tracking migrants from their original homes to ultimate destinations and investigating the money trail between the two countries. Just two days after publication of the article that exposed “slave-like conditions” faced by workers at a factory in Klang, Malaysia, a joint operation was conducted by the police, immigration officers and the Labour Department, leading to the arrest of the factory’s owners and rescue of the workers. Charges have since been brought against the factory owner. In Indonesia, local police also cracked down on the main supply chain – companies involved in recruiting and sending the workers to Malaysia.


Himal Khabarpatrika covers mismanagement of election funds

In 1992, when Nepal held its first parliamentary elections under the 1990 Constitution, the polls cost just Rs110 million (USD1 million). In November- December 2017, when the first parliamentary-provincial elections were held for the first time after a decade-long Maoist uprising, the Election Commission spent that much in just repairing old vehicles. The total cost of the polls was Rs10 billion—91 times higher than in 1992. A Himal Khabarpatrika investigation found that one reason why the parliamentary-provincial polls were so expensive was kickbacks by Election Commissioners, who bought luxurious vehicles and unnecessary equipment and materials at inflated prices. They even submitted fake bills and moved an official who refused to go along with the scams. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has begun investigating allegations of corruption.

Technical assistance

Throughout 2017, we continued to expand our program of technical assistance under Media Advisory Services (MAS). Across all our funds, MAS provided clients with tailored consulting and training, adjusted to their specific needs and challenges they face.

Over the year, we deployed $1.9 million in technical assistance, an increase of 35.4% compared to 2016. We provided 35 grants and carried out dozens of capacity building activities, including 12 one-on-one consultant visits. We also organized 5 group events, including a hackathon and 4 workshops covering advertising sales, product management and video production. We also supported travel and other related costs for clients participating in several media sector conferences and relevant outside events. As a result, a total of 155 media workers attended training events with MDIF support over the year.

MAS also develops resources for media managers designed to help clients and applicants for funding understand some of the key topics in digital news management. In 2017, we launched a series of practical guides, releasing 3 new publications covering product management, paywall implementation and data journalism.

$1.9 million
of technical assistance
and grants in 2017

media workers trained
at events in 2017

Supporting media ecosystems

South Africa Media Innovation
Program (SAMIP)

We teamed up with OSF-South Africa and Omidyar Network to launch SAMIP – a $4 million, 3-year initiative that seeks to accelerate digital media innovation among independent media organisations in South Africa. In 2017, SAMIP held its first Innovation Challenge to identify qualifying projects that engage and inform local communities and are passionate about trying new approaches to providing news and information. Out of more than 200 organisations, teams and individuals who submitted their ideas, projects and businesses, 9 were selected. The finalists include media organisations, startups and non-profits that seek to tackle a number of important issues in the South African media landscape, from community radios and citizen journalism platforms to multimedia digital publishing platforms. The program will provide funding and capacity building to organisations selected to participate.

$4m accelerator program
9 media organisations supported


Myanmar Media Program (MMP)

MMP continued to provide intensive capacity building throughout 2017, and in December entered its third year. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the $2.4 million, 3-year program is designed to strengthen the independent news sector in Myanmar through long-term, intensive, tailored technical assistance. It supports 13 independent Myanmar media, including TV, online and print national outlets, as well as ethnic and regional media organisations. While the focus and amount of capacity building is different for each company, in 2017 we deployed a mix of in-house expertise and mentor-coaches from Southeast Asia offering long-term one-on-one coaching, short-term specialist technical assistance consultancies, thematic workshops, peer-to-peer visits, regional and international event participation and access to a small grants program.

$2.4m capacity building program
13 media organisations supported


Beyond investment

lines for timeline
Impact dashboard 2017

More than 77 million people get their news from MDIF clients

Read the Impact Dashboard 2017, our annual impact analysis here.

We welcomed two new members to our Board of Directors: Tony Haile, founder of Chartbeat, and Nani Jansen Reventlow, human rights lawyer.

For the seventh consecutive year, MDIF was selected for the Impact Assets 50 (IA 50), a listing of top impact investment fund managers. Read more here.

MMP newspaper

Myanmar Media Program enters third year

Read more on the initiative here.

SAMIP launched

South Africa Media Innovation Program launched

More on SAMIP, our joint initiative with OSF and Omidyar Network to support news innovation in South Africa here.

Launch of #whatmediasupto?, a weekly roundup of MDIF and client news on Twitter. See the most important tweets from the past year here.

MDIF again independently confirmed as carbon neutral in 2017.

Practical guide to Product Management

Media Advisory Services publish first guide in series for media managers

Find more resources here.

2017 2018

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