Ashish J. Thakkar is a serial entrepreneur who started his first company at age 15. He is the founder of Mara Group, which comprises numerous holding companies that operate in 26 countries. In 1996, Ashish borrowed $6,000 to start his first IT company whereby he bought and sold computers. Within a year, he transitioned from a high school student to a full time entrepreneur with immense potential, audacious dreams and extraordinary energetic drive. Since then, he has successfully and exponentially grown his companies and currently employs over 7,000 people worldwide.
With African familial roots dating back over a century, Ashish considers himself a native son of Africa with strong Indian roots, of British nationality and a resident of the UAE. He has an unyielding business focus and allegiance to fortifying the business economies on the continent. As such, his business presence in Africa is currently at 19 countries and is steadily growing. Ashish devotes much of his energy to commercial and philanthropic initiatives in Africa.Mara Group has received global recognition for its achievements and contributions not only in Africa but also worldwide. In 2010, the World Economic Forum (WEF) recognised Mara Group as a dynamic high-growth company because of its potential to evolve into a future industry leader and a driving force for economic and social change. WEF has also named Ashish as a Young Global Leader as proof of his leadership, vision and business prowess. Ashish has been profiled by several publications and media outlets including Forbes, The Economist, MSN, CNBC, Africa Business Journal, Ventures Africa,San Jose Mercury, Reuters and the BBC.
The culmination of all his business achievements has been instituting Mara Foundation, the nonprofit social enterprise of Mara Group which focuses on emerging African entrepreneurs. The Foundation works to create sustainable economic and business development opportunities for young business owners via its Mara Launchpad incubation centres and Mara Launch Fund. The mission is to provide comprehensive support services including mentorship, funding, incubation centre workspace and business training to African entrepreneurs. Ashish believes that these support services will transform entrepreneurs’ business ideas into profitable and thriving business entities that will employ other Africans and contribute to the local and national economies. The Foundation currently operates in four African countries and recently launched an online web portal intended to reach millions of entrepreneurs globally.
Born in the United Kingdom, Ashish 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 in Dubai. Ashish enjoys sky diving, adventures and tennis, and regularly visits his spiritual leader Morari Bapu in India, whose philosophy of truth, love and compassion form the basis of Ashish’s own life as a social entrepreneur and business leader. In the near future, Ashish will represent East Africa on Virgin Galactic’s mission into space, thereby making him Africa’s second astronaut.