Ashish Thakkar – Keynote Speaker

Refugee, School Dropout, Entrepreneur, Astronaut, Philanthropist and Author

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Ashish Thakkar Profile Picture

Specialist Subjects

  • IT
  • Leadership
  • Investment
  • Africa


  • English


Ashish is a celebrated entrepreneur who started his first business in 1996 at the age of 15 with a $5,000 loan. Since then, Ashish and his family have driven the growth of the company from a small IT business in Uganda to the globally recognized multi-sector investment group that exists today. Through its investments, Mara Corporation now has a presence across 26 African countries in sectors spanning technology, manufacturing, real estate and financial services.

Ashish 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 led by the family to ensure a strong follow-through of the family’s vision to create a self-sustaining Africa through entrepreneurship.

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 advises several heads of state in Sub-Saharan Africa and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Entrepreneurship.

In 2015, Ashish was appointed Chair of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.

In 2016 Ashish was awarded Esquire Middle East Man of the Year.

In 2017, Ashish was appointed Chair of the Presidential Youth Advisory Group at the African Development Bank.

In 2019, Ashish was named African Leadership Person of the Year for Employment Generation. Ashish truly believes that by ‘doing good’ you will ‘do well’.

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