Ashish J. Thakkar

  • Serial Entrepreneur
  • Founder Mara Group

Ashish J. Thakkar is the Executive Chairman of Mara Sokoni, an African e-commerce platform with a focus on B2C marketplace for general merchandise. He is also the Founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation. Ashish has driven the growth of the Mara Group 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 11,000 people across 25 African countries in sectors spanning technology, banking, real estate and infrastructure. Ashish serves as Chair of the United Nations Foundation, Global Entrepreneurs Council and is the author of The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa’s Economic Miracle.


Ashish J. Thakkar photo 3
Ashish J. Thakkar photo 2
Ashish J. Thakkar headshot
Past Hosts Include:
  • World Economic Forum
  • TEDx Abidjan 2015
  • Harvard University
  • United Nations Social Good Summit
  • U.S. Africa Leaders Summit 2014
  • Norwegian African Business Association
  • Virgin Group
Rave Reviews About Ashish J. Thakkar as a Speaker
This book shares a successful entrepreneur's love of Africa, where business can be a powerful force for good. It will also change your perceptions of Africa - for good!

Ashish J. Thakkar | US - Africa Business Forum 2014 - Get Sharable Link
Talks & Conversations with Ashish J. Thakkar

Africa's Time is Now: Why the African Continent Will Lead the Way

Emerging Markets as Next Big Disruptors: Bringing Africa to Silicon Valley

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Books by Ashish J. Thakkar

Ashish founded his first business in 1996 at the age of 15. Since then, he has established and driven the growth of Mara Group from a small IT business in Uganda to the globally recognized multi-sector investment group that exists today. Through its investments and operations, Mara Group now employs over 11,000 people across 25 African countries in sectors spanning financial services, infrastructure, real estate and technology.

A recognized serial entrepreneur, Ashish has driven several key ventures such as Atlas Mara, a joint venture with Atlas Merchant Capital – a firm founded by Bob Diamond, former CEO of Barclays. Since its 2013 LSE listing, the entity has announced the acquisition of three banks, giving it an immediate presence in seven African countries. Mara Shopping, an online marketplace that will transform the e-commerce industry in Africa. Mara Delta Africa Holdings, a listed real estate fund set up to invest in brown and green field mixed-use developments across Africa. The fund has been formed via a partnership between Mara, Delta Africa, and two African real estate players.

Ashish is passionate about enabling, empowering and inspiring young and women entrepreneurs and in 2009, he founded Mara Foundation to foster and support emerging entrepreneurs through mentorship and venture philanthropy. One of the initiatives, Mara Mentor, is an online platform that connects ambitious entrepreneurs with experienced and inspiring business leaders. Mara Mentor is being launched with several heads of state throughout Africa and is increasingly being recognized as a tool that can enable, empower and inspire Africa’s youth and help solve the growing unemployment challenges.

In 2012, Ashish 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 is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Africa. In 2014, Ashish was awarded ‘the Future Awards ‘Young Leader’ Award. In 2014, Ashish also won the MTV Base Leadership Award and was one of the first Africans to be featured in Fortune’s 40 under 40 list.

In 2015, Ashish won the Financial Times’ Boldness in Business Award in recognition of his achievements in developing markets. Also in 2015, Ashish was announced as the Chair of the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council to help take the UN and the UN Foundation’s campaigns, partnerships and programs to the next level of innovation and impact.

Ashish advises several heads of state in Sub-Saharan Africa, and sits on the Board of The Africa Center, a creative space on New York’s Fifth Avenue which has a vision of becoming Africa's embassy to the world. In 2015, Ashish published a book, The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa’s Economic Miracle. It is a true story detailing Africa’s economic growth and the remarkable transformation taking place across the continent.

Born in the UK, 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 but spends most of his time traveling around Africa. He is a keen follower of his spiritual leader, Morari Bapu, whose teachings are truth, love and compassion.