COVID-19 has led many media companies to the brink of bankruptcy or even shutting down. Grants have been the main lifeline, especially in such emerging economies like Ukraine where most independent media relies on donor support.
Vector, a Ukrainian media outlet about creative industries, took a different approach – the team attracted investments from JKR Investment Group, an entertainment industry fund whose investees include bookmaker site Parimatch Africa and rising e-sports star Hellraisers.
The media was on the brink of closure. In March 2020, Dasha Zarivna, Vector’s founder, was ready to close the project, but the team agreed to work with reduced salaries.
The team launched its Patreon account, and thus managed to raise financial support from readers to complement the (dwindling) advertising revenue.
According to Alexander Gusev, the investment group’s CEO, the investment will be structured as a convertible loan. Investors will support the media during the crisis and will reserve the right to become an equity partner in case Vector meets agreed KPIs. Currently, Zarivna is the sole owner of the media.
Vector plans to grow their team, launch a podcast and start a separate corporate branch called “Vector Events,” writes Dasha Zarivna on her Facebook page.
Attracting commercial investments is not a common path for media companies in Ukraine.
Apart from a few big outlets, players on the market are usually supported either from the pocket of private businessmen, often with their own political motives behind the investments, or with donor support from Western funds and endowments.
While grants are important for keeping high-quality independent media on the float, they won’t last forever, and sooner or later will have to give place to the commercial ways of raising capital.
Successful cases of commercial investment from private equity or venture capital firms are expected to give other players a better sense of the options available and potential future paths for development.
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