When one thinks about Haiti, digital television may not be the first thing that jumps to mind. How would it work? And who could afford it? The entrepreneurs at NUtv, Haiti’s first and leading prepaid digital television service, began working on a solution two years ago. Their objective: grow the network to areas without access to television programs, keep prices affordable, and make the service accessible to a large number of people.
NUtv uses European Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial Standard Generation Two (DVB-T2), a technology that broadcasts all channels in digital quality with stereo sound and superior image quality. NUtv partnered with Digicel and uses its cellular towers to broadcast licensed TV content into homes through wireless technology.
NUtv’s focus on affordability makes it the cheapest alternative to traditional cable or satellite options. It offers customers the lowest-priced equipment among pay TV in Haiti, with packages starting for less than $14/month, including a portable system with a receiver, an antenna and a smart card. NUtv also aims to launch new subscription options and expand its marketing campaign to reach the mass market. The new options will allow customers to choose any NUtv plan on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis, with daily plans being offered for as low as $0.32.
Access to information can be a luxury in a developing country. By keeping prices low and providing its customers with a wide range of channels –up to 116 in French, Creole, English and Spanish – NUtv is filling an important need in Haiti. The demand is clear – even if many customers are medium-to-high income households, residents from low-income neighborhoods pool their resources to benefit from better TV service and access to information.
NUtv’s efforts did not go unnoticed. This year, the enterprise received Leopard Haiti Fund (LHF)’s second and largest investment to date: $2.5 million. As we wrote in a previous post, LHF is a private equity/venture capital fund launched by Leopard Capital in July 2012. It provides risk capital (via quasi-equity and equity instruments) to Haitian SMEs, including start-ups, with a high growth potential, and possibility for strong development impact at the community level.
Such funds are exactly what Haiti needs: long-term investments that support local business and entrepreneurship and improve the lives of Haitians. As with its first investment in Dlo Haiti, LHF has carefully selected its second partner for its sound business plan and objectives. LHF’s funding will help finance significant upgrades to NUtv’s network, to deliver a more reliable, higher-quality service. It will also support NUtv’s expansion of its services to the Cap Haïtien region in the North by the end of the year.
“When the MIF invested in LHF, we wanted to show that Haiti was ready to be an attractive destination for private sector investment,” says Susana Garcia-Robles, Principal Investment Officer from the MIF. “A more informed Haiti will mean better awareness of other global communities and their challenges and opportunities.”
Read about LHF’s first investment.