You can not talk about entrepreneurs doing massive (not big, massive!) things in Africa without the name Ashish J. Thakkar coming up. Honestly, this man is redefining the word unstoppable. For those who have not heard of him, he started his career over 10 years ago in 1996 when he was in high school selling computers. As a high school he completely embraced the entrepreneur inside of him and 28 years later he is still reaping the benefits. Although he is a UK citizen and he resides in UAE Thakkar sees himself as an African son, specifically Ugandan. It is because of Uganda’s dark history of Idi Amin that his family was banished from the country thus residing in UAE. The reason Thakkar is such a household name is because of his IT conglomerate, real estate and manufacturing companies that spread over 19 African countries. His love for Africa is evident particularly in his social enterprise of Mara Group which aims to produce sustainable economic and business development opportunities for African entrepreneurs.
This month he has sent shockwaves in the world of business and economics around the world and in Africa. This May Ashish Thakkar returned his World Entrepreneurship Forum’s Young Entrepreneur of the world award which he received only last year in October. He did this because of the fact that the Forum has retracted the award of ‘Policy Maker’ for the year of 2014 from President Kagame of Rwanda. They explained that the reason for doing so was because of Kagame’s controversial comments regarding France’s involvement in the infamous Rwandan genocide of 1994. For Thakkar the problem is that he was the one that nominated President Kagame to begin with, which demonstrates his belief that he (the president) truly deserves it. In a letter to the Forum he said that keeping the award would be a betrayal to “fellow Rwandans and Africans.”
On the brighter side of things MTV Base (MTV Africa) has nominated him aside others for the MTV Base Leadership Award to be held next month in Durban, South Africa. The Award is bestowed upon Africans below the age of 35 whose leadership is helping Africa rise across many different sectors and industries. In more good news for the entrepreneur and something that may provide some insight into his some-what irrational reaction to the World Entrepreneurship Forum’s decision is his business dealings in Rwanda that are turning out to be extremely profitable. Atlas Mara one of his many companies is currently in negotiations to acquire a controlling stake of the Development Bank of Rwanda which is owned by the Rwandan government. The company has raised $325 million for the deal so far and there is literally no reason to see why they shouldn’t succeed.
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