Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF) is a mission-driven investment fund for independent news outlets in countries with a history of media oppression. At work in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the former Soviet Union, and the Balkans, MDLF seeks to provide low-cost capital, solutions, and know-how to help journalists in challenging environments build sustainable businesses around professional, responsible, quality journalism. Since 1996, MDLF has provided more than $71 million in low-cost financing to 180 projects with 68 independent media companies in 23 countries.
MDLF is a New York-registered not-for-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) public charity status
Through low-cost capital, in-depth training, and long-term advice and support, MDLF helps news outlets committed to responsible journalism strengthen their operations and become commercially sustainable. MDLF accomplishes this goal by providing news outlets with the financing they need in order to act as strong and stable pillars in their developing democracies. MDLF provides financing for:
•printing presses and pre-press equipment
•audio/video production equipment
•construction of broadcast facilities and printing houses
•working capital (where there is significant potential for growth in audience or advertising)
By supporting each loan and investment with intensive financial monitoring, on-going advice, specialized consulting, management training and technology assistance, MDLF enters into a close, involved, and long-term relationship with each client. The key areas where MDLF focuses advice and training include:
•budgeting and reporting
•printing house management
MDLF manages its investment pool as a Family of Funds that allows it – and funders – to target specific media support goals. Each Fund meets a distinct objective, with its own risk profile, type of borrower, pricing and fundraising framework. Loan repayments are recycled through the Funds to provide financing for other media businesses, so the same money goes to work over and over again to help more independent news outlets.
MDLF works with leading journalists and independent news media in emerging democracies around the world. Clients are carefully assessed on the impact of their work, their practice of good journalistic principles, and their need for below-market-rate loans. Every MDLF client plays an important part in the democratic, social and economic development of their country, and many are only able to maintain their independence through MDLF financing.
MDLF measures the impact of its work on client businesses through three indicators: sales; the number of readers, listeners or viewers; and long-term viability. Results show that MDLF has an overwhelmingly positive effect on the sustainability of independent news businesses. Key findings include:
•In 2007, more than 29 million people in emerging democracies got their news from 30 MDLF clients.
•After 5 years with MDLF, clients on average increased their readers, listeners or viewers by 43%.
•After 5 years with MDLF, clients on average increased their sales by 327%.