Million-Dollar Fund Launched for Media Innovation in Africa

Sep 72016

Media pioneers and organizations in Africa will benefit from a new $1 million fund designed to spur digital innovation that can improve news distribution, revenue flows and audience engagement in news coverage about the health and well-being of Africans.

The new innovateAFRICA Fund offers seed money, technology support and expert mentorship to media organizations and individual innovators.

“African media are experimenting with digital journalism, but the steadily worsening market situation facing mainstream media often has a chilling influence on the really big ideas,” said Justin Arenstein, director of Code for Africa (CfAfrica), which manages the new innovation fund. “innovateAFRICA is meant to help newsrooms leapfrog obstacles, by giving the types of support that neither media companies nor traditional donors can provide.”

CfAfrica is a partner of the International Center for Journalists and a product of Arenstein’s work as an ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow.

“Through all of ICFJ’s work in Africa, we are constantly encountering visionaries with great ideas for how digital innovation in media can improve societies,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. “This program will turn these ideas into action.”

The new fund will provide grants from $12,500 to $100,000 for projects judged to have the best chance to strengthen and transform African news media. Grantees will also receive technical advice from civic technology laboratories across the continent, along with startup support and one-on-one mentoring from top international media experts.

The deadline for applications is December 1, 2016.

innovateAFRICA runs alongside a $500,000 companion fund, impactAFRICA, which gives story grants of up to $20,000 to support digital reporting projects. impactAFRICA was launched in February 2016, and is now offering its second round of grants for investigative data-driven stories.

Partners of innovateAFRICA include Omidyar Network, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), the Global Editors’ Network (GEN), the World Bank and the Agence Française de Cooperation Medias, the French agency for media cooperation.

Proposals will be judged by an international jury of digital journalism and civic technology experts, following public voting and shortlisting by a team of technology and digital engagement experts. Proposals that focus on strengthening audience engagement with African civic media are of particular interest, along with improved models for digital news distribution, and initiatives that explore new revenue models for African storytelling.


THE PARTNERS

Code for Africa is the continent’s largest independent digital journalism and civic technology initiative. It operates as a federation of autonomous country-based digital innovation organizations that support ‘citizen labs’ in five countries and major projects in 15 others. CfAfrica runs the innovateAFRICA Fund and the impactAFRICA Fund, which both award seed grants to civic pioneers for experiments with innovations such as camera drones, environmental sensors and data-driven tools for investigative watchdogs. CfAfrica is an initiative of the ICFJ.

International Center for Journalists (ICFJ):
The International Center for Journalists is at the forefront of the news revolution. Our programs empower journalists and engage citizens with new technologies and best practices. ICFJ’s networks of reporters and media entrepreneurs are transforming the field. We believe that better journalism leads to better lives.

CFI (Agence Française de Cooperation Medias):
CFI is the media cooperation agency of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and is responsible for coordinating and implementing French aid policy for promoting and enhancing the media in developing countries. CFI works alongside players operating in the media industry, whether state-owned or privately owned, in order to strengthen the modernisation and democratisation procedures that France so avidly supports. CFI is currently involved in around 30 projects that fall within four major programmes: media and pluralism, media and enterprise, media and development, and media and human resources.