Ashish Thakkar is Africa’s youngest billionaire by South African Rand value. Ashish is an Indian who has lived most of his life in Africa, coming in first as a refugee, from Rwanda to Uganda. He is the CEO and founder of The Mara Group.
34-year old Ashish Thakkar is a self-made billionaire with a 2013 net worth of $260 million (R2.2 billion). He was born in UK but his family later relocated to Uganda.
They settled there and started a business too. With the rhythmic rise and falls in the business, Ashish was equipping himself for his entrepreneurial journey.
His parents met and got married in Kenya and then Rwanda. However they fled to England to save their lives from the genocide in Burundi. Later they made a return to Rwanda and unfortunately met another genocide. Luckily they survived the ordeal.
“It’s because of that that I wanted to become an entrepreneur and support my family who had lost everything and had zero hope- a second time.”
Ashish dropped out of school at the age of 15 and started selling computer hardware from Dubai to Uganda. Astounded by his own unimaginable success he awarded himself the title of “Youngest African Billionaire”.
“When you resolve to start doing something from nothing, it builds up your confidence”.
2 decades later, a humble IT business transformed into multi-million dollar and multi-national firm with over 11,000 workers.
Currently Ashish Thakkar is the chairman of the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council. In 2009, he founded the Mara Foundation which helps upcoming and young African entrepreneurs.
The Mara conglomerate CEO has also authored a book titled: The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa’s Economic Miracle. In an interview on the book, the handsome billionaire believes that entrepreneurship is the key, being a living example himself.
He said it might not be world class investments at the start but with support and empowerment, Africa’s economy will get there.
The billionaire recalls that his days as a refuge were the most defining moments of his life. From his experiences in life and career, Ashish believes in dreaming big and starting small.
My advice would be to follow your passion, follow your gut. Absolutely give it a shot, don’t be scared to fail. But remember, it’s a journey, not a destination. You will get knocked down so many times. You’ve got to get up, dust yourself off and get back to it.
There will be opportunities to cut corners and do things in a way that will fast-track your growth. Don’t, because that never lasts. Do it in the right way- have the right values, have the right ethics, have the right morals.