innovateAFRICA Fund to Invest $1 Million into Digital Media Startups


innovateafricaCode for Africa (CfAfrica) through its innovateAFRICA Fund is offering media pioneers in Africa $1 million in support for leapfrog technologies or digital innovation. innovateAFRICAFund will be a combination of seed funding, technology support and expert mentorship and is open to both mainstream media organisations and individual innovators.

According to Code for Africa’s (CfAfrica) direector, Justin Arenstein, “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. innovateAFRICA is meant to help newsrooms leapfrog obstacles, by giving the types of support that neither media companies nor traditional donors can provide themselves.”

innovateAFRICA will run alongside a $500,000 companion fund, impactAFRICA, a $20,000 grant  launched in February this year for journalists to get out into the field for pioneering digital reporting projects. impactAFRICA’s second round is offering grants for investigative data­driven journalism stories.

CfAfrica manages innovateAFRICA, as part of the International Center for Journalists’ (ICFJ) data journalism initiative in Africa. innovateAFRICA 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 one­on­one mentoring from the world’s top media experts.

Projects can range from new ‘digitally native’ journalism start­ups, to ideas for improving the reach and impact of legacy media operations. Projects that tackle journalism’s changing role as a civic watchdog will receive special attention.

“Citizens need reliable and actionable information to make informed decisions. A strong media remains amongst the most effective ways for giving citizens both information and a voice, and we are therefore keen to help journalists be as digitally savvy as possible,” explains Arenstein.

Proposals from international digital news pioneers may be accepted but entries must have an African media partner who will help co­develop and test the innovation and who will deploy the project for African audiences. The deadline for applications is 01 December 2016.

innovateAFRICA’s partners include Omidyar Network, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CFI, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), the Global Editors’ Network (GEN) and the World Bank.

Entries must be submitted to the innovateAFRICA website by midnight (Central African Time) on December 01, 2016.