Emerging market fund launched for digital media innovation

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A well-known New York-based fund that focuses on emerging market media has launched an early-stage fund for entrepreneurs developing digital news and information businesses.

The fund, called Digital News Ventures, has been launched by the Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF). The MDLF, which operates out of Prague, has invested more than $113-million in 79 independent news companies in 27 countries, mainly emerging markets, since 1995. It backs up all of its debt and equity investments with strategic advice and business assistance.

Digital News Ventures will provide early-stage equity finance from $30 000 to $300 000 to entrepreneurs whose ideas can be used to provide news and information that is important to open societies or can help develop financially sustainable news businesses.

The MDLF says the fund’s goal is to foster innovative projects that will help change the way the world interacts with information. Digital News Ventures is a global fund with a primary focus on projects located in, or with particular application to, emerging and frontier markets.

“Digital News Ventures invests in the future of news,” said Syed Karim, MDLF Director of Innovation and Digital Strategies.

“By financing visionary media ideas, particularly in emerging and frontier markets, we will help foster innovation in news and information, and help create the platforms, tools and services that news businesses need to be viable in the digital age.”

“We have been active in the digital media space for 15 years and have financed some of the most respected and successful on-line news sites in the developing world, including Malaysiakini.com and South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Online,” said MDLF CEO Harlan Mandel.

“Digital News Ventures is the next evolution of our strategy to foster innovation in news and information. It extends the scope of our investments beyond news businesses to projects that can change the way people interact with information.”

Digital News Ventures will invest in:

  • Innovative business models for producing credible news and information.
  • Platforms that generate and disseminate data and information constructed by the public.
  • Tools that help the editorial and content-creation process.
  • Services that help make sense of the onslaught of online information, including reporting on the social web.
  • Products that contribute to the viability of news operations.
  • Viable, independent digital news outlets, especially in frontier markets.
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