Partnering with exceptional entrepreneurs to realize their aspirations.

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ESPIRA Investments is a private equity firm investing growth capital in Central European small and medium size enterprises. We invest in entrepreneurs who have developed successful businesses to a certain stage and have passion and drive for further growth. Our overriding objective is to partner with high-potential Czech and Slovak SMEs that are in a position to accelerate their growth via capital investment from an experienced investor.


Growth is essential for SMEs to survive in an increasingly competitive world. ESPIRA believes that SMEs from Central Europe have great potential to grow and succeed internationally in a fast changing business environment. ESPIRA provides capital to such high-potential SMEs and also adds value in areas beyond financing.

Our goal is to partner with entrepreneurs who have built something extraordinary and unique through their hard work and who have a passion for their product or service, as well as ambition to grow further. We have a deep respect for these entrepreneurs and view their continued leadership as a critical element of our strategy. Our role is to provide a support on a strategic level and not to interfere with everyday operations of the companies.

We believe in close cooperation and shared objectives and we work with the management team throughout entire investment period in resolving challenges, setting goals and allocating resources. We seek an alignment of incentives across a company's various stakeholders in order to achieve desired investment results. We view ethical behavior and respect for each company’s unique culture and value as core principles underlying our investment approach.

One element of ESPIRA’s investment philosophy is our focus on companies managed by balanced teams of men and women. We believe that diversity in decision making and leadership can lead to superior results, and we recognize the potential of such companies and want to become the partner for their further growth.


Our engagement often starts at a stage when the entrepreneur does not yet have a clear idea about how he or she could grow the business with additional capital and what could be a possible transaction. During this phase, we are prepared to assist the entrepreneur and the management team to define their long term vision, fine tune their strategy and explore opportunities that private equity could offer. As such, we encourage entrepreneurs to contact us at any time for a noncommittal exploratory discussion.

ESPIRA’s investments can serve the following transaction situations:

  • Finance organic growth and internationalization of the existing business
  • Finance and support acquisitions and industry consolidation
  • Support ownership evolution and capital restructuring (e.g. shareholder replacement or business transfer situations)
  • Management buyouts

Via ESPIRA’s network we aim to support a company’s business development and enhance the management team’s capabilities. In cases where there are acquisition growth opportunities, we help to identify and evaluate target companies as well as negotiate and execute complementary add-on acquisitions.

We invest in SMEs with revenues of at least € 2 million, positive EBITDA and proven business model. Our focus is on companies headquartered or operating in Central and Eastern Europe with an emphasis on Czech Republic and Slovakia. We are interested in diverse industries including consumer goods, health care, education, services, and manufacturing.


ESPIRA’s investor base includes the European Investment Fund, the ESPIRA founding partners, family offices and a mix of local and international investors.


team - Andrea Ferancová Bartoňová


Andrea is a Founding Partner of ESPIRA and Chair of its Board

Andrea has over 20 years’ experience in emerging market finance. Prior to ESPIRA, Andrea was a co-owner of Wood & Company, a leading Central European investment bank and brokerage. Andrea was instrumental in growing Wood & Company’s business since its early days, where she started in 1995 in the Equities Division. After a management buy-out in 2000, she became a co-owner as well as the Head of Equities. Under Andreas’s leadership, Wood & Company’s market share in the Czech Equity market grew from 5% to the market leading position of 30%, which the firm still holds today. She also pioneered electronic trading access in Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Vienna, Frankfurt, Bucharest, Istanbul and Dubai, among others. Andrea was the key driver in Wood & Company’s expansion into 11 CEE markets as well as in establishing its London office.

Andrea was numerous times ranked among TOP 25 business women in the Czech Republic by Hospodářské noviny and Forbes surveys and acts as a jury member for a prestigious award Via Bona Slovakia. Andrea is also a Board Member of the Charter 77 Foundation, the largest NGO in the Czech Republic, which supports disadvantaged people and groups.

Andrea graduated from Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Economics, Prague.

team - Emília Mamajová


Emília is a Founding Partner of ESPIRA

Emilia has been executing private equity investments in the Central European region for the past 14 years. Prior to co-founding ESPIRA, Emília was a Head of Czech Republic and Slovakia with PineBridge Investments CEE, a Central European focused private equity firm managing over € 500 million. Earlier in her career, Emília was a member of the investment teams of Benson Oak Capital and Penta Investments. Emília has been involved in numerous transactions in a variety of sectors including health care, consumer goods, manufacturing and services. Emilia’s track-record encompasses deals ranging from early stage, to control buyouts, buy-and-build and late stage growth capital investments.

Emília graduated with honors with an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and holds Master’s Degree in Finance from Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica Slovakia.

Team - Miroslav Tabernaus


Investment Manager

Miroslav has 6 years of experience in the private equity industry in Central Europe. Prior to joining ESPIRA, he spent 2 years working for Advent International, where he was responsible for the complete selling process of portfolio company TES Vsetín, a machinery and engineering company with approx. 600 employees. Advent International is a global private equity fund manager which has invested USD 44 billion since its establishment in 1989. Prior to Advent, Miroslav worked for 4 years as an Investment Analyst at Natland Group, where he was responsible for valuation of investment opportunities and managing of portfolio companies in solar energy and sports & leisure industries. In the beginning of his career, Miroslav worked at the Prague office of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

Miroslav graduated from the CEMS Master's degree program at the University of Economics in Prague and also studied at the NHH Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen. Miroslav is a CFA charterholder.

Team - Tomáš Jeřábek


Investment Director

Tomas has 15 years’ experience in the finance sector in Central Europe. Prior to joining ESPIRA, Tomas spent 10 years with Franklin Templeton’s Darby Private Equity fund, focusing on mezzanine and minority equity investments. At Darby, Tomas was primarily responsible for sourcing, executing and monitoring investments in the Czech and Slovak markets. His engagements included Energy 21 (a major Czech alternative energy company) and EDS (the largest CEE printing company) where Tomas served as a Board Member. Earlier in his career, Tomas worked in the corporate finance team of Deloitte in Prague focusing on valuation and M&A advisory in the CEE region.

Tomas holds a Ph.D. in finance from the University of Economics, Prague and also studied finance at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich and The University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler Business School.

Team - Radka Kalvarová


Office Manager

Radka has over 9 years experience in a role of an assistant and office manager. Prior to ESPIRA Radka held a position of assistant to the management of Cetelem Czech Republic and for Belmont, an international transportation company.

Radka studied French language at the Université Populaire de Lausanne and holds French language diploma of Alliance Française. Currently she studies „French for Business“ at Ostrava University.

Advisory Board

Advisory Board - John Little


John has 18 years of international financial experience from Central Europe, UK, United States and the Middle East. John served as the CFO and Managing Director of the Management Board of AVG Technologies, one of the largest global antivirus software companies, the first Czech company listed on NASDAQ, which later merged with Avast Software. Prior to AVG, John worked as a CFO at MiNC Property Investments and Wood & Company.

Advisory Board - Chris Mruck


Chris is a Managing Partner of Advent International responsible for Advent’s investment activities in Central and Eastern Europe. Chris has over 20 years of private equity experience mainly in sectors such as business & financial services, industrial, retail, and consumer & leisure. Prior to joining Advent, Chris was at the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, latterly as Senior Banker for Czech Republic.

Advisory Board - Helen Rodwell


Helen is the Managing Partner of the global law firm CMS offices in Prague and Bratislava and the Head of the Corporate practice group for Central and Eastern Europe. Helen focuses on the CEE region where she has advised clients on M&A Transactions for nearly 20 years. Her practice covers a wide range of sectors, particularly financial services, private equity, consumer products, energy and manufacturing.

Advisory Board - Richard Seewald


Richard is a technology investor, experienced investment professional and co-founder of Evolution Equity Partners. Evolution is an international venture capital firm investing in information security and enterprise software & solutions in the US, Europe as well as in emerging markets.

Advisory Board - Magdaléna Souček


Magdalena is a Country Managing Partner of Ernst & Young in the Czech Republic. She was awarded the title Most Influential Businesswoman in a survey conducted by daily newspaper Hospodářské noviny and now is a jury member of the survey Top25 Women in Czech business.

Advisory Board - Martin Vohánka


Martin is the founder of W.A.G. payment solutions, a provider of payment solutions for road mobility which belongs to one of five biggest mobile payment providers in Europe. Martin also lectures at the University of Economics in Prague and co-founded the Endowment Fund of Independent Journalism.

Advisory Board - Lubor Žalman


Lubor is the founding partner of EnCor Capital Management, an investment and M&A advisory group based in Prague, serving Central and Eastern European institutional and private investors. Previously, Lubor held a position of the CEO of Raiffeisenbank Czech Republic and his prior professional experience includes also senior management roles in Home Credit International, McKinsey & Company and Komerční banka.


Summa Linguae Technologies

Summa Linguae Technologies, listed on the New Connect market of the Warsaw Stock Exchange, is one of the leading Central European technology-backed providers of translation and other language-related services (LSP) for B2B clients, including international blue-chips. Headquartered in Cracow, Summa Linguae has a global footprint, having completed acquisitions in India, Sweden, Canada and the US.

The Company’s solutions employ a number of technologies and machine learning algorithms which support and automate translations, as well as allow integration with clients' back-end infrastructure. Company’s offering includes automated localization services, various API integrations, voice over and subtitling, machine translation post-editing, transcriptions, etc. Company’s strategy, set by the founder and CEO Krzystof Zdanowski and COO Madhuri Hegde, lies in continuous geographic expansion, as well as expansion of the scope of offered services.

Since February 2020

ICON Communication Centres

ICON provides multi-channel contact centre and business processes outsourcing (BPO) services to a variety of global brands. Based in Prague, ICON's team of three hundred talented communication specialists delivers a full range of technology-driven solutions in customer care and technical support in over thirty languages. ICON's deep understanding of its clients' products and processes ensures the delivery of high-quality services that reduce costs and drive excellent return on investment. ICON, led for sixteen years by Helen Hickin, the CEO and the original co-founder, has won multiple international awards and continues to innovate within the BPO industry.

Thanks to an investment by ESPIRA, the solutions and services of ICON provided in the most competitive markets such as the USA, UK and Australia are now accessible also to Czech and Slovak SMEs which could benefit from outsourcing and optimization of their customer care and from support in their expansion on foreign markets.

Since April 2019

JK Education

JK Education is one of the Czech Republic’s top education groups operating three private high schools in the Czech Republic: the American Academy in Prague, the American Academy in Brno and the Prague Humanities Gymnasium. In September 2019 the group is opened its fourth school - American Academy in Bratislava. Curricula of JK’s schools draw on the best in the American and Finnish education systems such as freedom in choosing courses, thematic projects, assigning students to classes not by age but by the level of difficulty of the subject, classes with a small number of students and an individual approach.

JK is also an educational consulting agency placing hundreds of students from Central Europe to the high-quality foreign boarding and public high schools and to universities, primarily in the US, Canada and Western Europe and organizing the largest international high school fair in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Austria.

Ondrej Kania, CEO of JK Education, is a driver behind group’s mission to deliver high quality education to increasing number of students.

Since November 2018


21th February 2020

Genesis and ESPIRA join V4C in Summa Linguae Technologies (EN)

Private equity firms Genesis Capital and ESPIRA Investments have acquired an interest in V4C’s investment in Summa Linguae Technologies, the Warsaw New Connect...

16th April 2019

Press Release (EN)

Private equity fund ESPIRA has joined forces with the executive management team to purchase 100% of ICON Communication Centres...

28th November 2018

Press Release (EN)

ESPIRA Investments Acquires a 50% Stake in JK Education Group in Order to Support Further Growth...

28th November 2018

Polovinu JK Education získal fond ESPIRA. Vystřídá Tomáše Jízdného (CZ)

Investorské duo Andrea Ferancová Bartoňová a Emília Mamajová, zakladatelky fondu ESPIRA, má první zářez. Slovenské finančnice vsadily na vzdělání…

28th November 2018

Rozjeli v Česku americké střední školy JK Education, teď se Kania a Jízdný rozcházejí. Do společnosti přichází nový investor (CZ)

Potkali se na základní škole v Brně a po střední se rozhodli, že spolu změní české školství. Nejprve začali vysílat středoškoláky na studia do USA…

6th April 2018

Žena ve vedení může o polovinu zvýšit ziskovost, říká investorka Andrea Ferancová-Bartoňová (CZ)

V době, kdy jsou akviziční dravci ochotni zaplatit za perspektivní byznys kupované firmy nekřesťanské peníze, lze na českém trhu stále…

19th March 2018

Slovensko je atraktívne pre investorov (SK)

Podľa domácich a zahraničných odborníkov v oblasti fúzii a akvizícii (M&A) sú Slovensko a krajiny CEE (strednej a východnej Európy)…

30th December 2017

Firmy so ženami vo vedení môžu od nového fondu ESPIRA získať kapitál (SK)

Na slovenský a český trh prichádza začiatkom decembra nový private equity fond ESPIRA, ktorého je cieľom investovať do firiem, ktoré majú…

10th December 2017

Investice do firem řízených ženami nám vynesou až 20 procent ročně, řiká spolumajitelka fondu ESPIRA (CZ)

Nový fond soukromého kapitálu ESPIRA plánuje investovat 800 milionů korun do českých a slovenských firem se ženami ve vedení…

7th December 2017

Dali ste vo firme moc aj ženám? Máte šancu získať miliónovú injekciu (SK)

Za spoločnosťou ESPIRA stoja skúsené investičné bankárky Andrea Ferancová a Emília Mamajová. Ich cieľom je investovať 30 miliónov eur…

7th December 2017

New CEE firm ESPIRA hits first close on debut fund (EN)

ESPIRA Investments, a new private equity set up to make growth investments in central European SMEs, has reached a first close on its €30m debut fund…

7th December 2017

Bankéřky založily fond investující do firem s ženami ve vedení (CZ)

Na český trh přichází nový fond soukromého kapitálu, jehož cílem je investovat do firem, které mají ve vedení kromě mužů také ženy…

7th December 2017

Press Release (EN)

ESPIRA Investments Holds First Close for Central European Growth Capital Fund

16th January 2017

CMS Legal (EN)

25 years of Private Equity in CEE

January 2016

Ženy & byznys / Svět Průmyslu attachment (CZ)

Interview with Andrea Ferancová