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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21:

Humanitarian news agency Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), has received a US$25 million (RM84.1 million) investment over the next 15 years from Jynwel Charitable Foundation.

Support from Hong Kong-based Jynwel Foundation, the charitable arm of the Low Family’s Jynwel Capital funded by successful mining and liquor entrepreneur, the late Datuk Low Meng Tak, will allow IRIN to relaunch next year as an independent non-profit news agency and further extend its reach globally said the Financial Times.

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Begun in 1995 as a UN-funded solution to manage data flow from the Rwandan genocide that had then overwhelmed information management systems for the humanitarian aid community, IRIN has grown to become a reliable news agency focusing on humanitarian issues in regions often forgotten, under-reported, misunderstood or ignored.

Creating better awareness and understanding of regional issues and events, IRIN is widely used by the humanitarian aid community, academics and others who want to know what’s happening in the world that doesn’t always make the headlines.

As such, IRIN reports are seen as providing early warnings to help generate humanitarian responses. Its reports have covered sexual violence in conflict areas, refugee repatriation, landmines and the humanitarian fallout of climate change and the global food crisis.

With the Jynwel Charitable Foundation’s investment, IRIN will now expand its reach and seek extra revenue streams beyond traditional donors such as countries like Switzerland, via advertising and partnerships with other publishers.

IRIN eventually aims to generate at least a third of its revenue from advertising and publishing partnerships to reduce its dependence on donor funding, reported FT.

“We think those three numbers can make it profitable,” said Jynwel executive director Jho Low, who envisioned IRIN becoming “in the long term, a viable business on a cashflow basis”.

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“To be a free-standing entity was the most compelling model in terms of the promise of the product and to attract new and varied donors,” said IRIN director Ben Parker to FT.

There are plans to expand IRIN’s digital platform for mobile readers and extend its current coverage. IRIN now covers Africa, Asia and the Middle East – publishing in English, French and Arabic. It will expand to Latin America and China, adding reporting in Spanish and Mandarin, as reported by FT.

FT also mentions that – acknowledging the Jynwel Charitable Foundation’s contribution towards these plans, Parker said it is “felicitous that our new investor comes from the emerging rising powers” as the humanitarian aid industry changes “from a western-dominated construct to a multipolar world”.

For more details, please read full article at FT.

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