Dropped out from School Now Is Africa’s Youngest Billionaire


This is the story of Ashish Thakkar who is a 33-year-old successful entrepreneur, with his conglomerate Mara Group estimated to have over $1 billion worth. This also makes him Africa’s youngest billionaire.

Ashish was born to Gujarati parents in the United Kingdom who migrated to Africa in 1980s. In 1971 they had moved to the UK when Idi Amin enforced the eviction of Asians from Uganda. And so his family was forced to leave the country when he was just 12. The family was left with insufficient money and had to start from scratch. Due to such tough financial situations, Ashish had to quit school. Ashish’s father launched a small business to fulfill the basic necessities of the family. He took a loan of $11, 000 to startup.

Ashish stepped into business as well, as a teenager. He began a humble business by selling his own computer for $100 to a family friend. He realized the simplicity of making money and bought another computer and sold it. With this successful attempt, he began to sell computer hardware brought from Dubai in Uganda.

In just a few months he set up a shop in Dubai and became the largest supplier of computer hardware in Africa. Within a few years, his business became one of the biggest IT companies in Africa with an annual revenue of $100 million. The company had 7000 employees over 26 countries.

Mara group has now diversified as telecoms infrastructure, hotels, a packaging manufacturer, conference centre, a paper mill and shopping malls and thousands of acres of best agricultural land.

Ashish was recently appointed and honoured as World Economic Forum Global young leader. He also operates a social enterprise named Mara Foundation to help the coming generation of entrepreneurs. The foundation mentors and provides other support to first generation entrepreneurs. More than 1,60,000 entrepreneurs have obtained mentorship since its launch.

Mara Group was launched two decades ago with just $5000 and now has an estimated annual turnover of over $100 million. It took a lot for Ashish to rise from nothing to becoming the youngest billionaire in Africa in less than two decades.

(Photo Credit: Ventures Africa, African Business Central)