– Ashish Thakkar of the Mara Foundation –
Ashish J. Thakkar of the Mara Foundation has returned to Africa. His return is not just for his Business or philanthropic interests, but instead he returns because of his very strong belief in the continent’s potential. By putting his technical expertise to good use, Ashish Thakkar has created an online platform to enable the budding entrepreneurs to get in front of established enterprises, exposing them to mentorship, incubation, and the possibilities of investment capital.
The one-of-a-kind entrepreneur has accomplished what only few attain in their lifetime. Together with his family, Thakkar moved to Kampala when he was just fourteen, having been made a refugee of the Rwandan genocide just two years after moving from the UK. In 1996, at the age of 15, Thakkar launched his first company, where he bought and resold computers to his school and friends. After some intense persuasion, his parents agreed to let him start his own business. Thakkar’s small trading operation snowballed into the Mara Group, a diversified conglomerate with approximately $100 million in revenue. The sprawling conglomerate of real estate, manufacturing, and IT enterprises under Mara Group operates on four continents and in 26 countries.
A business that started in IT diversified into packaging and property development. After some time it ventured into infrastructure, asset management, and now agriculture.The Mara Foundation’s non-profit making arm focuses on entrepreneurship and education. The group not only places emphasis on internal and structure growth of the entrepreneurs but also on strategic partnerships with global experts in various fields. With Mara group having roughly over 5000 employees across the globe, it has mentored around 120 small businesses in East Africa.
Thakkar, the recently appointed World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, together with young leaders from all around the world, is jointly shaping a better future for the world with his energy and ideas. He believes in the future potential of Africa as an investment hub because of its social stability and the considerable availability of talented human capital.
Thakkar believes that business, at the end of the day, is about people and relationships and for that reason one should try to make a strong network. The mentorship that his foundation offers exposes young enterprenures to the community of like-minded individuals. Thakkar’s biggest drive is to see Africa thrive anAshish Thakkar of the Mara Foundationd compete aggressively on a global scale. He firmly believes that the Indian Tiger and the Chinese Dragon have had their days and it is now time for the African Lion – which remains the logo of Mara Group.