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ImpactAssets 50: A Global Landscape of Impact Investment Fund Managers
The ImpactAssets 50 (IA 50) is the first open-source, publicly published database of experienced private debt and equity impact investment fund managers.

ImpactAssets 50

An Annual Showcase of Impact Investment Fund Managers

Media Development
Investment Fund

Total Assets Under Management: $25 – 49M
Asset Class: Private Debt - Absolute Return / Notes
Media, Technology and Mobile

Firm Overview

Category: (None)
MDIF invests in independent media around the world providing the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies. Timely, accurate, relevant information is critical to free societies, enabling fuller participation in public life, holds the powerful to account and protects the rights of the individual. MDIF invests financial capital and human skills in independent media companies in countries where access to free and independent media is under threat, enabling them to develop sustainable businesses, able to compete with state- or oligarch-supported outlets. With investments in more than 100 media companies in 38 countries since 1996, MDIF has provided more than $134 million in financing, including $117 million in debt and equity investments. With a loss rate of 7.7%, MDIF has received $63 million in recovered principal, earning almost $40 million in interest, dividends and capital gains, and returned $28 million to investors.
Firm Headquarters: US & Canada
Years of Operation: 10 years or more
Total Assets Under Management:
$25 – 49M
Total Number of Investors: Between 5 – 25
% of Capital from Top 3 Investors: 25% – 49%
Investment Thesis:
With more than 86% of people living in countries without a free press (Freedom of the Press 2015, Freedom House), there is huge demand for independent news, information and debate in emerging democracies. But if a news business is to provide editorially independent content over the long-term, it must be financially independent. Startup capital for new digital businesses and credit and investment financing for established players are vital for growth, to finance essential equipment purchases and working capital. Technical assistance is also crucial But in countries like Guatemala and Russia, financing is either unavailable or comes only with strings attached that threaten editorial independence. With 20 years' experience in media finance and strategy, and a proven commitment to editorial independence, MDIF provides affordable debt and equity financing backed up by strategic advice and business assistance to connect people to information and help create enduring institutions for change.
Investment Overview:

Investment Example

MDIF first provided a loan to Los Tiempos, a newspaper and news website in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2007. We have since provided several rounds of financing and technical assistance to help it develop its position as a leading source of independent information in a country with repressed media debate. Los Tiempos again showed its importance in informing Bolivian society during the 2014 Presidential election, providing vital information in print and online. It created a dedicated site, with news and a timeline of campaign events, as well as opinion poll results, videos and photos. It presented the biographies of candidates, comparing their plans for the economy, health and education, and a feature enabling readers to ask candidates questions. It held public debates with congressmen and congresswomen, streaming them live, and engaged readers through social media. On Election Day, it provided real-time news and partnered with a TV station to stream results.

Leadership and Team

Cumulative Leadership Experience in Investing:
30 years or more
Cumulative Impact Experience of Top Three Firm Leaders:
30 years or more
Harlan Mandel – CEO More Info

Harlan Mandel, Chief Executive Officer, has managed debt and equity investments in over 50 news outlets on five continents. He has extensive experience of working in emerging and frontier markets as an impact investment manager and attorney. He was MDLF’s Deputy Managing Director from 1998 until his appointment as CEO in 2011. Before joining MDLF, Harlan served from 1996 to 1998 as Deputy General Counsel of the Open Society Institute/Soros Foundations Network. Prior to that, he practiced law in the New York and Los Angeles offices of Morrison & Foerster, specializing in international litigation, intellectual property and new media law. He received his JD from Columbia University School of Law in 1989, and holds a BA in International Relations and Asian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Harlan is based in New York.

Marie Nemcova – COO More Info

Marie Nemcova has over 20 years’ experience in media and international development. Marie was program director in the Open Society Fund Prague (OSFP) from 1994 to 1998, managing several large-scale regional and national development initiatives. She joined MDIF in Prague in 1996, taking on responsibility for MDIF’s international and Prague-based operations, and assisting with development issues and strategic partnerships. From 1987 to 1994, whilst working at the Czech Agricultural University, Marie coordinated international development projects for USAID, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union. She has an MA in Economics and Management from Prague’s Czech Agricultural University. She is based in Prague.

Anna Maria Krynska – CIO More Info

Anna Maria Krynska, Chief Investment Officer, has more than 16 years of experience in capital investments in emerging markets. She joined MDIF in 1997, first as a Financial Consultant, later serving as Senior Financial Analyst. Anna Maria has headed MDIF’s investment department since February 2008. In her various roles at MDIF, she has advised, assessed and developed business plans for scores of news outlets of every form across the developing world. Prior to joining MDIF, she was a financial analyst at Fidea Management, a management company of X NFI Foksal (one of Poland’s national investment funds), after working as an analyst in the M&A department of CIECH, a Polish chemical holding. Anna Maria started her professional career in the capital investment department of Bank Handlowy in Warsaw. She holds an MA in Corporate Finance and Banking Systems from the SGH School of Commerce in Warsaw and a certificate from l’Institut Francais de Gestion (IFG). She is based in Warsaw.

Elena Popovic – General Counsel More Info

Elena Popovic, Secretary and General Counsel, is an attorney with extensive experience of commercial law in multiple legal systems. Since joining MDIF in 1997, Elena has played a critical role in structuring, documenting and enforcing cross-border debt and equity investments for independent media in numerous emerging and frontier markets. Prior to joining MDIF, Elena worked on property rights of refugees and managed a legal policy task force for the former Yugoslavia at the Open Society Institute in New York. Elena was a founder and general secretary of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia from 1994 to 1995 and general secretary of the Center for Anti-War Action until 1994. A graduate of the School of Law at the University of Belgrade, Elena worked in private commercial practice in Serbia before completing an LLM at New York University School of Law. Elena is based in New York.

Percentage of Investment Professionals who are Women and/or Under-Represented Groups in Firm's Geographic Focus:
50% or more
Percentage of Management Team who are Women and/or Under-Represented Groups in Firm's Geographic Focus:
25% to less than 50%

Financial Performance

Target Financial Returns Relative to Benchmark:
Concessionary Rates
Actual Performance Relative to Target Financial Returns in the Past Three Years:
In line with initial target returns
Financial Reporting Frequency to Investors or Donors

Impact Performance

Percentage of Total Assets Under
Management that are Impact Investments:
Primary Impact Outcomes:
Other: Independent News and Information
Value-added Services Offered:
Business and legal training
Financial literacy training
Technology training

Investments systematically target companies where social and/or environmental impact is integral to the product/service being created:
All MDIF investees are independent news businesses in countries with a history of media oppression. They provide objective, quality information to people with little or no other access to reliable news and provide a platform for political and social debate. In addition to extensive financial and legal enquiries, MDIF carries out two further levels of due diligence to ensure that our financing will have a social impact. First, a thorough examination of the media and political environment of the applicant's country/region is carried out to assess the need for independent journalism. Second, a detailed analysis of the applicant's content is carried out to ensure that it observes the highest international standards of professional journalism and provides coverage of issues like human and minority rights. Only after both impact elements of the due diligence process are satisfied will an applicant be considered for financing.

Investments systematically include social and environmental sustainability practices in the due diligence process:
Before making any investment, MDLF carries out an extensive assessment of the quality, impact and independence of the investees' editorial practices to ensure that it adheres to ethical professional standards. MDLF carries out on-site assessments and talks to partners in the country and region. All MDLF investees must have a record of promoting democratic institutions and practices and must exercise the principles of a free, independent and responsible press. A significant part of their coverage must be news, current events and documentary programs, and be driven by fact-based, unbiased, investigative and responsible journalism, independent from the influence of the government or of any other interest group. The news outlet must have a proven record of offering coverage of different political opinions, promoting human rights and the rights of ethnic minorities, and promoting inter-ethnic coexistence. No part of the applicant's business may be owned by the government or any state agency.

Impact Tracking and Monitoring

Impact is Tracked:
Social and/or Environmental Impact is Reported to Investors and Donors:
Yes - on regular basis (annual or quarterly)
Third Party Validations:
Participant on steering committees or leadership roles within impact industry associations
Publisher or contributor to industry white paper or other research in impact investing

Learn More

Key Contact Name: Peter Whitehead
Phone: +44 779 305 0670
Mailing Address:
37 West 20th Street
Suite 801
New York, NY 10011 USA

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