Bonds to fund a free press? You heard it first at TED …

Sasavucinic_tg05_1_1Last summer at TEDGlobal, Sasa Vucinic explained in quiet tones his maverick idea: He wanted to sell “free-press bonds.”. “If investors are willing to fund the US deficit, why wouldn’t investors want to fund the press freedom deficit?” Vucinic asked. (BBC article on that talk)

Yesterday, he put that thought to the test. As TEDGlobal producer Bruno Giussani reports on his blog:

It’s now reality: for the first time a social cause will be listed on a major stock exchange. The Media Development Loan Fund, a non-profit run by Vucinic (picture) and based in New York and Prague providing low-cost financing to independent media in emerging democracies, is launching a security that mobilises private investment to support a free press – basically a bond with a social element. They’re doing so together with Swiss bank Vontobel and Zurich social investment specialists responsAbility.

(…) The timing of the issue is not coincidental: today May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. Vucinic said this morning in the Financial Times that he believes the new product could become “a blueprint for engaging private finance in social projects around the world”.