Ashish J Thakkar is a serial entrepreneur who started his first business in 1996 at the age of 15 with a $5,000 loan. Since then, Ashish, Jadgish Thakkar, Sarla Thakkar (Ashish's parents) and Ahuti Chug (Ashish's sister) have driven the growth of the company from a small IT business in Uganda to the globally recognised multi-sector investment group that exists today. Through its investments, Mara Group now has a presence across 25 African countries in sectors spanning technology, financial services, infrastructure and real estate.
Ashish J Thakkar is passionate about enabling, empowering and inspiring young entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs. In 2009, he launched the Mara Foundation to foster and support emerging entrepreneurs through mentorship, Mara Mentor is a free online global platform that connects emerging entrepreneurs with business leaders and industry experts. Mara Foundation is lead by Ashish's sister Rona Kotecha, this enables a strong follow through of the family's vision to create a self-sustaining Africa through entrepreneurship.
In 2012, Ashish J 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. Ashish advises several heads of state in Sub-Saharan Africa and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Africa.
In 2015, Ashish J Thakkar was appointed Chair of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.
Ashish truly believes that by 'doing good' you 'do well'
“The Lion Awakes reveals Africa’s next generation of leaders coming into their own. Their creativity, dynamism and versatility are on full display in Ashish J. Thakkar‘s engaging and inspiring story.” Kofi Annan
“Nothing is sadder than vital seeds falling on fallow ground. Imagine that the most important idea in a generation for our future is stillborn simply because it emerges in an environment where there is no entrepreneurial support. For any society, supporting entrepreneurship is not a skill or an edge, it is a duty. This index […]
“The Ashish J. Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index will be a valuable tool to identify and create environments where entrepreneurs can thrive.” Arianna Huffington
“Africa’s growth will continue to be driven by entrepreneurs. Ashish J Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship index will highlight the operating environment and issues that have to be solved for entrepreneurs to flourish.” Jay Ireland
“Entrepreneurs transform lives and communities – by creating jobs and income, and inspiring others to lead change. But they need the right environment to thrive. Through Ashish J Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship index, the Mara foundation will show which regions do this well and why, thereby helping more economies enjoy sustainable and inclusive growth. There is no […]
“Entrepreneurs are a great engine for development. In Africa, you need to encourage and create the right environment for their success. I really wish to congratulate The Mara Foundation for developing its important index which is a useful tool for all of us” MO Ibrahim
“I commend Ashish J. Thakkar and the Mara Foundation for creating this timely index. It provides useful insights on how Africa can unlock the potential of its youth and boost entrepreneurship. As populations are aging rapidly in much of the rest of the world, Africa can reap the economic dividends of its growing labor force. […]
“The Mara Foundation has done some great work supporting entrepreneurs all over the world. I’m delighted to see their new entrepreneurship index that will help identify opportunities for business, not for profits and government to work together to create the right environment for entrepreneurs to thrive and to create jobs.” Sir Richard Branson
“By 2050, one quarter of the Earth’s population will be African. In this transformational period, the Ashish J. Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index will help to create an environment that enables both entrepreneurs and policy makers to succeed” Bob Diamond
“The goal of NGOs is to facilitate development. Ashish J Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship index will help NGOs, policy makers and private sector companies work together to create a more enabling environment”
“Ashish’s passion for Africa is unrivaled, and what he and his family have achieved with Mara is remarkable. What I love about the book is that he’s been able to bring it all to life on the page. If you’re an investor or an entrepreneur, whether working in Africa or not, you won’t find a […]
“Ashish’s story is fascinating and unique. It reveals, though, the emergence of an innovative, vibrant and ambitious generation of African entrepreneurs who are geared to reshape the continent in the twenty-first century and its positioning within the global landscape.” Grace Machel
“The Lion Awakes book shares a successful entrepreneur’s love of Africa, where business can be a powerful force for good. It will also change your perception of Africa – for good” Sir Richard Branson