Zephyr Acorn provides equity financing and business support to innovative early-stage companies 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

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 finance, strategy, new market entry, and governance to help build the foundation for future growth.



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.

Shudhan Kohli

Managing Partner

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.

Thomas C. Barry

Managing Partner

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.

Herbert Hatanga

Principal and Investment Manager

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.

Sean R. Nowak

Partner and Advisor

Contact Us


Zephyr Acorn

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