Zephyr Acorn is an investment and business building company focused on investing in and supporting early-stage technology-enabled companies primarily in East Africa.



Zephyr Acorn invests in and actively supports innovative early-stage companies across sectors in East Africa that have the potential to scale across the continent and beyond.


Paul Breloff, CEO & Co-Founder, Shortlist

"The team at Zephyr Acorn has been a terrific partner as we’ve grown the business. Beyond the capital, the team’s local presence in Nairobi and commitment to the market have made them indispensable for their experience and network, as well as their global investment footprint and business wisdom."

Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO-Founder, AZA

"Zephyr Acorn has been a truly effective advisor and sounding board for our executive team as we grew from a young start-up to a fast-paced growth company. We have really appreciated their depth of knowledge in the countries where we operate, especially their steady guidance on building steady business models in unsteady markets."

Fund Overview & Strategy

Zephyr Acorn is an early-stage investor focused on technology-enabled startups in financial technology, logistics and agribusiness. We are typically a company's first institutional capital and seek to invest across the following themes:

Digitization of traditional business models

Use of technology to enhance productivity and deliver cost-effective products and services

Innovation in the distribution or delivery of products and services

Inclusion of new customer segments with new products and services

We seek to partner with entrepreneurs who are passionate about a big idea, committed, adaptable, and coachable with strong execution skills and high integrity.

Post-investment, we actively support portfolio companies in areas such as capital raise, finance and financial planning, strategy, recruitment, new market entry, and governance to help build the foundation for future growth.



Tom is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Zephyr Acorn. He is Chairman of Zephyr Management which he founded in 1994. Zephyr has been a pioneer in private equity in Africa, as a co-founder of the first offshore private equity fund in South Africa, South Africa Capital Growth Fund in 1994; co-founder of the first private equity fund in Nigeria, Capital Alliance Private Equity in 1998; and founder of the first pan-African private equity fund, Pan-African Investment Partners in 2003. Zephyr also co-founded private equity funds in Mexico, Korea, India and Sri Lanka. Previous to Zephyr Management, Tom was CEO of Rockefeller and Company. Prior to that position, Tom was employed by T. Rowe Price Associates, where he was President of The New Horizon Fund and Director of Research. Tom has a BA from Yale University and MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Thomas C. Barry

Managing Partner

Mike has over 10 years of experience in various finance functions including banking, business analysis and private equity investing in East Africa. Mike is focused on deal sourcing, deal screening, due diligence, and execution of potential investments. He is involved in monitoring and providing management support to Zephyr’s portfolio companies, helping them implement best practice financial management, and develop and implement strategic initiatives. Mike is also responsible for fund reporting to Zephyr Acorn’s investors. Prior to joining Zephyr, Mike was a Senior Associate at Tiserin Capital and an Associate at Kibo Capital Partners. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from JKUAT and is a CFA Program® Level III candidate.

Mike Mbari

Investment Principal

Nonnie is responsible for deal structuring, sourcing, and execution at Zephyr Acorn. Nonnie’s experience spans across operations, strategy, fundraising and business development. She set up the first regional trade association for the East African investment community and led several strategic initiatives to promote and progress the work of investors in the area, including mobilizing additional capital and supporting local investors. Nonnie is the co-founder and CEO of ‘Try Cooked Limited’, a F&B company, which received pre-seed capital from Antler Global. She has also previously worked with Emerging Capital Partners, TBL Mirror Fund, Africa Legal Network and Africa practice. Nonnie holds an L.L.B from the University of Bristol.

Nonnie Wanjihia Burbidge

Investment Principal

Contact Us


Zephyr Acorn

Ikigai Lower Kabete, Lower Kabete Road, Kenya

Tel: +254-758261316

Website: https://www.zmlp.com/zephyr-acorn

Zephyr Management, L.P.

12 East 49th Street, 41st Floor
New York, NY 10017, USA

Tel: +1-212-508-9400

Fax: +1 212-508-9494

Website: https://www.zmlp.com/

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