Zephyr Acorn

Nairobi city center

Zephyr Acorn provides equity financing and business support to innovative early-stage companies in East Africa.

SafeMotos drivers on duty in Kigali

THE OPPORTUNITY

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.

"We are very fortunate to partner with investors who are aligned with our vision of achieving financial inclusion of informal businesses across Africa and who actively support the growth of the business in areas including international expansion, capital raising and governance. Through their support, Zephyr Acorn has helped change the trajectory of our business."

- Wayne Hennessy-Barrett, CEO, 4G Capital

Fund Overview & Strategy

4G sales officer meeting with a customer in a produce market

We are typically a company's first institutional capital and seek to invest across the following themes: (i) digitization of traditional business models, (ii) use of technology to enhance productivity and deliver cost-effective products and services, (iii) innovation in the distribution or delivery of products and services, and (iv) 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 finance, strategy, new market entry, and governance to help build the foundation for future growth.

View our Investment Portfolio >

Investments

4G Capital

Based in Nairobi, 4G Capital provides micro working capital loans and tech-enabled business training to informal market retailers. 4G is solving the severe lack of access to credit in this large segment of the market by providing unsecured loans disbursed within 24 hours via mobile money through its proprietary scoring algorithm and network of mobile field officers. With its scalable technology platform, 4G seeks to serve microenterprises across the African continent.

Asoko Insight

Asoko Insight provides data and analytics on private African companies to corporates, investors, advisors and governments on a subscription basis. Using multiple data acquisition channels and applying data science methods, Asoko is solving for the stark lack of data and analytics on private African companies. Customers use Asoko for research, KYC, lead generation and due diligence.

BitPesa

BitPesa is a digital currency payments and trading company providing an international money transfer service to/from the US, Europe and China from/to African countries. BitPesa is currently operating in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda and is expanding to several additional African countries. BitPesa provides international money transfer that is faster, cheaper and more secure than traditional options in the currency corridors in which the company operates.

ConnectHealth

ConnectHealth (Operating as Siha) provides telemedicine services via mobile app, enabling doctors and patients to connect over text, voice or video. ConnectHealth helps solve significant inefficiencies for both doctors and patients, as a substantial percentage of outpatient visits can be conducted remotely and accessibility to doctors' offices can be difficult. With B2C and B2B offerings, ConnectHealth earns a commission on each user transaction and recurring fees from enterprise customers.

GET IT

Based in Kigali, GET IT is providing produce and dry goods delivery services, including cold storage, beginning with hotels and restaurants. Through its focus on systems, training and superior execution, GET IT seeks to solve the deficiency of cold storage and logistics services in Rwanda and beyond. The company sources produce directly from farmers, cutting out several middlemen who add little value, providing higher quality products at lower cost. GET IT is also introducing new, high demand products to the East African market.

Safe Motos

Based in Kigali, SafeMotos is an online motorcycle taxi platform that connects riders and drivers over the company's mobile application. From data collected on drivers' smartphones, SafeMotos provides drivers with safety scores and drivers must maintain a certain score to remain on the platform. SafeMotos is providing rides that are cheaper, safer and more convenient than the status quo.

Shortlist

Shortlist uses technology to help companies hire better employees faster. Shortlist sources applicants from multiple channels, then screens them using chat-based interviews, online skills assessments and other proprietary tools that predict how candidates will perform on the job. Shortlist delivers to the employer interview-ready candidates, enabling companies to reduce the time they spend on recruiting and hire better employees.

Yum Deliveries

Based in Nairobi, Yum Deliveries provides on-demand delivery of food to diners from restaurants and fast food franchises in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Yum offers a B2C food ordering service that allows users to order food for delivery from restaurants via Yum's website, mobile app or call center. Yum is also the exclusive delivery provider for fast food franchises in East Africa.

Investment Team

Shudhan Kohli
Managing Partner
Nairobi, Kenya
Shudhan Kohli is a Managing Partner of Zephyr Acorn. Shudhan has spent the last ten years working with startups as an investor, founder, executive and strategic advisor. His work has focused on commercial ventures within the emerging markets of Latin America and East Africa that deliver profitable solutions to their communities' most pressing challenges. Prior to joining Zephyr, Shudhan deployed and successfully returned capital for a Kenya-based seed fund targeting technology startups called Grey Elephant Ventures. Prior to this, he founded the Big Blue Bike - South America's first responsible supply chain company focused on sustainable textiles and fashion in Peru. Shudhan has a BA in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin and engaged in advanced studies in International Business from the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.
Thomas C. Barry
Managing Partner
New York, New York
Tom is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Zephyr Acorn. He is CEO 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.
Wanjiru Chabeda
Associate
Nairobi, Kenya
Wanjiru Chabeda is an Associate at Zephyr Acorn, primarily supporting portfolio companies. Prior to Zephyr, Wanjiru worked as a Consultant at Dynamo Advisors, working with numerous early-stage startups in East Africa to develop operational processes, go-to-market strategies and investment materials. She has project management experience at leading HR and marketing firms in Nairobi and led the launch of The Foundry Africa, a leading co-working space in Nairobi. Wanjiru has a Bachelor's in Information Systems from Nelson Mandela University, South Africa and an Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Business Project Management (with distinction) from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Herbert Hatanga
Principal and Investment Manager
Nairobi, Kenya
Herbert has over 18 years of experience in East Africa across functions in financial management, private equity investing, banking, strategy implementation and business operations. He is directly responsible for commercial assessment of portfolio companies, development and implementation of strategies for management support, financing and divestment. Herbert is in direct interface with company managers/owners, other investors and potential acquirers. Prior to joining Zephyr, Herbert was CFO of Millbridge Holding, SA and has held senior investment management and analyst roles at firms in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. He holds a Bachelor of Statistics from Makerere University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Management from Uganda Management Institute.
Sean R. Nowak
Partner and Advisor
Sean is a co-founder and former Managing Partner of Zephyr Acorn. Previously, Sean was a Principal at Kaizen Venture Partners, where he invested in and actively supported businesses in East and West Africa. During business school, he worked as a teaching assistant for the Private Equity in Emerging Markets and Business Strategy & Corporate Law courses. Prior to business school, Sean was a lawyer at Latham & Watkins in New York, where he practiced patent litigation. During law school, he won Notre Dame's Bengal Bouts boxing tournament and his interests include plant-based nutrition and ultramarathons. Sean currently mentors entrepreneurs in Nairobi and the US through Nest Venture Capital and XL Africa. He has a BA from Wake Forest University, JD from the University of Notre Dame and MBA from the Wharton School.

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Zephyr Acorn LLC.

Ikigai, JGO 90,
James Gichuru Rd.,
Lavington, Nairobi, Kenya

Zephyr Management, L.P.

320 Park Avenue, 22nd Floor,
New York, NY 10022

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