Ashish Thakkar is a serial entrepreneur who founded his first business in 1996 at the age of 15 with a $5,000 loan. Since then, he has driven the growth of the company from a small IT business in Uganda to the globally recognized multi-sector investment group that exists today. Through its investments, Mara Group now employs over 10,000 people across 22 African countries in sectors spanning technology, financial services, manufacturing, real estate and agriculture. Thakkar continues to drive the business development and strategy of Mara.
In 2012, Thakkar was appointed a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in recognition of his success and leadership in driving social and economic change in Africa. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Africa and was recently awarded ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the World Entrepreneurship Forum in Singapore. Thakkar also advises several heads of state in Sub-Saharan Africa, and sits on Dell’s Global Advisory Board and the Board of the Africa Center in NYC.
Thakkar is passionate about enabling, empowering and inspiring young male and female entrepreneurs. Consequently, in 2009, he founded Mara Foundation to foster and support emerging entrepreneurs through mentorship and venture philanthropy. Born in the UK, Thakkar and his family moved back to Africa after surviving the historic Rwandan genocide and generational exile of African families. He grew up in the UK and Uganda and now lives between Dubai and Kampala, Uganda.