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Portfolio
Review
2018

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Track record

MDIF has a 23-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 we made our first loan in 1996, MDIF has invested in 115 independent media businesses in 40 countries where access to free and independent media is under threat. We provided 172.5 million in financing, including $148.2 million in loans and equity investments, $23.7 million in technical assistance and TA grants and $0.6 million through Digital Kiosk, the secure payment service for independent media.

MDIF has received back over $72.3 million in recovered principal invested, while earning more than $41.8 million in interest, dividends and capital gains, and returning over $47.9 million to investors.

$172.5 million
of total financing
over 23 years

115
media companies
in 40 countries

Track record summary table

Cumulative 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 (unaudited)
Assets Under Management n/a $42.2m $39.9m $69.4m $70.7m $59.5m
Number of total clients 115 66 53 48 47 42
Number of new clients n/a 11 2 4 2
Number of countries 40 32 28 28 26 25
New investments made $148.2m $3.3m $1.5m $3.8m¹ $3.7m $3.0m
Principal recovered $73.2m $2.9m $3.2m $3.0m $1.96m $1.86m
Interest, dividends & capital gains collected $41.8m $856K $576K $1.2m $917K $263K
Returned to investors $47.9m $1.6m $3.6m $6.4m $9.1m $2.0m

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, 2014-2018
Assets Under Management New investments 70M 60M 50M 40M 30M 20M 10M 0M 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Number of clients, 2014-2018
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total clients New clients

Portfolio

MDIF ended December 31, 2018 with more than $59.5 million total Assets Under Management, invested in 42 companies in 25 countries. Year on year, our total Assets Under Management decreased by 15.8% compared to 2017.

In 2018, MDIF provided $5.7 million in media financing, extending $2.7 million in technical assistance and TA grants as well as $3.0 million in loans and equity investments for 8 companies across 7 countries.

Throughout 2018, we saw 4 outstanding clients from 4 different countries fully repay their loans and leave the portfolio.

In the past year, principal recovered stood at $1.86 million and we returned $2.0 million to investors. Collections of interest, dividends and capital gains totaled $262,708. We also wrote off 4 investments totaling $6.7 million in 4 companies, which put our loss rate at 15.2% at the end of the year.

$59.5 million
invested
in 42 companies

8 companies supported
with financing in 2018

Assets Under Management, 2014-2018
MDIF GF MP EMOF I MMF I 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 80M 60M 40M 20M 0M
Children's Radio Foundation

In 2018, MDIF operated its investments through a fund structure that encompassed MDIF General Fund (MDIF GF), Emerging Media Opportunity Fund I (EMOF, private equity), MDIF Media Finance I (MMF I, loan fund), and MDIF Media Partners (MP, investing in Polish media company Agora SA).

New investments by fund, 2018
MDIF GF - $850k MMF I - $1.3m EMOF I - $833k

Funds

Emerging Media Opportunity Fund I (EMOF I)

EMOF I is a private equity fund investing in early- to mid- growth stage media businesses in frontier and emerging markets. To ensure mission alignment, MDIF’s entitlement to full compensation is tied to a defined set of impact metrics.

Following a first close in December 2016, EMOF I announced its final close in December 2018, in the amount of $12.9 million from 5 investors, including MDIF’s GP contribution. At the end of the year, the fund had drawn down $6 million, which accounts for 46.6% of capital. The fund is for 10 years, subject to three 1-year extensions.

As of December 30, 2018, the equity fund had invested a total of $5 million in 5 digital media companies in 4 countries – Brazil, Peru, India and Indonesia. In 2018, EMOF invested $832,800 in an existing client in Indonesia.

MDIF Media Finance I Loan Fund (MMF I)

MDIF Media Finance I (MMF I) is a blended-value loan fund, in which MDIF and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) provide investors with 55% first-loss protection.

Launched in October 2016, MMF I announced its final close in January 2018, with a total raised of $5.9 million from 7 investors, including MDIF’s GP contribution. At the end of the year, the fund had drawn down $2.3 million (39% of committed capital). The fund is for 7 years after the initial closing.

As of December 31, 2018, fund had provided a total of $2.5 million for 9 media businesses located across 8 countries – Botswana, Guatemala, India, Kosovo, Lesotho, Malawi, Serbia and Ukraine. In 2018, MMF I allocated $1.3 million to 5 media businesses in 5 countries, with two companies new to our portfolio and three being existing clients.

Countries we work in

As of December 2018, MDIF held debt and equity investments in media companies in 25 countries. The largest share of our investments — 50.7% — was in South East and Eastern Europe, followed by Africa at 19.5% and Asia at 16.7%. In 2018, we extended our operations to one new country – Malawi.

MDIF’s Assets Under Management by region

Current investments
SE & E Europe Africa Asia Latin America Eurasia Other
Cumulative investments
SE & E Europe Eurasia Africa Latin America Asia Other

Countries where MDIF has provided financing

Countries where MDIF has provided financing

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

ASIA
Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal

EURASIA
Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine

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

SOUTHEAST AND EASTERN EUROPE
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia

OTHER
Outlets with global reach based in the Netherlands and USA

At the end of 2018, 90.3% of MDIF’s outstanding investments were in countries where the media environment is partly free or not free, according The World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RWB). Additionally, 57.8% of our investments in 2018 were in countries struggling with serious corruption problems, as measured by 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. Each bubble represents a country, while the size of the bubble is determined by the amount invested. The further the bubble is to the right, the less free the country, and the lower on the chart, the more corrupt the country is perceived to be by its citizens.

² 0-25 “Free” (referred to as “good situation” and “satisfactory situation” by RWB), 25.01-35 “Partly free” (referred to as “problematic situation” by RWB) and 35.01-100 “Not free” (referred to as “difficult situation” and “very serious situation” by RWB)

³ 0-49 “More corrupt”, 50-100 “Less corrupt”

Amount invested by country 100,000 1,000,000 5,000,000 15,000,000
MDIF’s assets under management by press freedom and corruption perceptions
0 0 50 100 25 35 60 Corruption Perceptions Index The World Press Freedom Index More corrupt Less corrupt Not f ree Partly free Free

Client developments

In 2018, 67% of companies in which MDIF had investments were located in countries that slipped in the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders in comparison to 2017. Additionally, in an uptick of 8 percentage points from the year before, 44% of MDIF-supported media organizations surveyed as a part of our annual questionnaire reported experiencing attacks, arrests or harassment in the past year, with examples of incidents presented below.

Vijesti MONTENEGRO

PARTLY FREE The World Press Freedom Index

Montenegro on globeIn Montenegro, as the country’s leadership continued to demonise independent journalists, Olivera Lakić, an investigative reporter from Vijesti was shot and wounded outside her apartment. Montenegro’s only independent daily newspaper and its staff have suffered more than 25 physical attacks, a bombing, numerous verbal assaults and repeated financial harassment. The perpetrators have enjoyed almost blanket impunity, with not a single person being held responsible for ordering an attack.

elPeriódico GUATEMALA

NOT FREE The World Press Freedom Index

Guatemala on globeIn Guatemala, a court found a novel way to stop elPeriódico and its founder José Rubén Zamora from reporting on Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel. It relied on a law meant to protect women from abuse and attack to shield the Minister from the “psychological violence” of investigative journalism. The legal actions were the latest in a long list of intimidation the daily newspaper has faced since its founding two decades ago, attacks that include a mock execution, kidnapping, assaults, death threats and advertising boycotts.

Despite the unfavourable environment, our clients and their staff continued to uphold high journalistic standards. Their outstanding work earned them at least 60 awards in 2018, a selection of which are presented here. In fact, 64% of MDIF-supported media organizations surveyed as a part of our annual questionnaire reported receiving awards in 2018. Out of those presented with prizes, 56% were recognized with national awards, 50% with international awards and 39% with local awards. These honours and accolades speak to the dedication and professionalism that media companies supported by MDIF exhibit in their work.

Marijana Kadić Bojanić

Marijana Kadić Bojanić

TV Vijesti, Montenegro

The Best Manager in Montenegro
Executive Director was recognized amongst the most successful business women in leadership positions in Montenegro

Mirko Macari

Mirko Macari

El Mostrador, Chile

Excellence in Journalism Award
Editorial Advisor was distinguished with a coveted national prize awarded by Alberto Hurtado University in the Opinion category.

Scroll

Scroll

India

The WAN-IFRA South Asian Digital Media Awards
Digital outlet won two gold prizes at prestigious regional awards, one for best news website and one for best use of online video.

Mail & Guardian

Mail & Guardian

South Africa

The Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Award
For the sixth year in a row, Mail & Guardian scooped prizes at South Africa’s leading journalism awards.

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 2019.

Corruption and Accountability:

Gazeta Wyborcza exposes banking corruption in Poland

Leading Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza broke a story on corruption involving the head of Poland’s financial market watchdog KNF who, according to a recorded conversation, sought a bribe from a private bank owner in return for lenient treatment. The implicated official resigned and, soon after, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Polish Central Anti- Corruption Bureau started an investigation into the allegations. On the grounds of possible obstruction of justice, the former head of KNF spent two months in detention. Meanwhile, Gazeta Wyborcza faced pressure from the National Bank of Poland (NBP), whose head had recommended the implicated official for the post. NBP sought six injunctions to prevent the publication of media articles implicating its head in the KNF corruption scandal, yet the court rejected all requests, claiming that they were incomplete.

Social issues:

GK sheds light on gender violence in Ecuador

Digital outlet GK took part in a regional collaboration of 6 media outlets to expose inequality and gender violence across Latin America. Among the efforts to bring these issues to light, GK published a report which addressed incest, an often unspoken form of violence against girls in Ecuadorian society. Mixing general information with victims’ testimony, GK’s moving piece shed light on young women and girls’ experiences and provided more visibility to the issue. A few months after the publication, a group of women’s organizations and foundations came together to raise awareness by launching the “No More Family Secrets” campaign. Currently, work is being done on a draft bill to include incest as a crime within the Comprehensive Criminal Code, instead of treating it solely as an aggravating misdemeanor. The Ecuadorian legislature also began to debate decriminalizing abortion in cases of incest.

Elections:

Malaysiakini paves the way for country’s democratic transition

In a historic election, Malaysians voted out the Nasional Barasan regime after 61 years in power. Malaysiakini played a vital role in paving the way for the momentous democratic transition. For two decades, the independent news site tirelessly shined the light of truth on Malaysia’s shady politics, despite being raided by police and dragged to court numerous times. Although regulators tried to block access to the site in the run-up to the election, more than 17 million people, almost 4/5 of the entire adult population of the country, used Malaysiakini or its internet TV channel KiniTV to track the results on polling day. After several tumultuous hours, Malaysiakini was the first outlet to conclusively call the election for the opposition. A week after the elections, on his release from prison, jailed opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim specifically thanked Malaysiakini for its dedicated and uncompromising journalism.

Technical assistance

Since 1996, we have deployed a total of $23.7 million in technical assistance and grants to to support our investments, reflecting our commitment to help media companies leverage the financing we provide so they can build sustainable businesses.

Throughout 2018 alone, we used $2.7 million in technical assistance across all our funds, an increase of 43.52% compared to 2017 that supported more than 55 different media organisations. Our program of technical assistance under our Media Advisory Services (MAS) unit carried out dozens of capacity building activities, from one-on-one consultations to group events.

Out of all organizations that reported receiving capacity building support from MDIF in 2018, three-quarters said that they “Strongly agree” or “Agree” that there have been changes in their company because of that support, and only one-quarter remained “Neutral” to that statement. Most importantly, 100% of the changes that occurred as a result of capacity building support from MDIF were viewed as positive.

$2.7 million
of technical assistance
and grants in 2018

55
media companies assisted

Initiatives

Myanmar Media Program (MMP)

Our Myanmar Media Program (MMP) continued to help improve the business and management capacity of 11 participating media companies through mentorship and various forms of intensive capacity building. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the $2.4 million, 3-year initiative also published “An Unfavorable Business: Running Local Media in Myanmar’s Ethnic States and Regions”, a 66- page report that assesses the business challenges faced by the country’s local media outlets, as well as an interactive map showing private local media in Myanmar’s ethnic states and regions. Such was the program’s success that a follow-on 3-year program in Myanmar will be launched in 2019, again with Sida support.

$2.4m capacity building program
11 media organisations supported

MMP

South Africa Media Innovation
Program (SAMIP)

Amid political unrest stirred by Jacob Zuma’s resignation as president in early 2018, our South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP) entered its second year. Run by MDIF, with funding support from OSF-South Africa and Luminate, this $4 million, 3-year media initiative is working to accelerate digital media innovation among independent media in South Africa. Over the year, the program grew its cohort to 11 participating organisations – from community radios and citizen journalism platforms to multimedia digital publishing platforms – that seek to tackle important issues facing South African media. SAMIP provides the funding, mentorship and training they need to deploy new solutions and reach new audiences.

$4m accelerator program
11 media organisations supported

SAMIP

Year in review

MMF I reaches target

More on MDIF Media Finance I, a $5.9-million loan fund with Sida-backed first-loss protection here.

MDIF launches EMOF I

More on Emerging Media Opportunity Fund I, a $12.9 million private equity fund for independent media here.

SAMIP welcomes new participants

More on South Africa Media Innovation Program, our joint initiative with OSF- South Africa and Luminate to support news innovation in South Africa here.

MMP publishes Myanmar local media business report

More on Myanmar Media Program, our Sida-funded capacity building initiative for independent media in Myanmar here.

Dutch Attorney Adriaan Stoop joins MDIF’s Board of Directors, while Key Kiarie and Teling Peterson join MDIF as Chief Investment Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

MDIF clients reach 93.7 million people, a record high

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

MAS publishes guides for media managers

More about resources on important issues in media management by our Media Advisory Services here.

MDIF is again independently confirmed as carbon neutral in 2018.

2018 2019

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