Is it reasonable to expect digital media start-ups in the Global South to find ways to become sustainable beyond donor funding? A Montclair State University study revealed that the success of non-donor funded start-ups is directly related to the wealth of the area in which they’re based — the wealthier the area, the more likely they are to survive. What then should happen to start-ups in democracies where immature advertising models threaten the viability of conventional business models and citizens can’t afford to donate or contribute to subscription and membership schemes?

This panel will bring together donors, researchers and editors of media start-ups in the Global South to explore this crucial issue. In many emerging economies, democracy — now, more than ever — depends on public interest journalism holding the government accountable for the creation and implementation of evidence-based policies and sound budgets. But more so than in developed countries, the financial model for independent media is broken… and new models of sustainability such as selling services, crowdfunding, subscriptions and membership, that work in wealthier countries, are simply unaffordable. Unlike in the West, emerging democracies have seen little research done to explore what works for sustainability in their settings and circumstances. Does the solution to sustainability of media startups in developing countries lie in donors changing their funding models to longer funding cycles and providing more core support?