Broke to billionaire via truth, love and compassion

May 28, 2013

31 year-old Ashish Thakkar is Africa's youngest billionaire. Once a broke civil war refugee, Thakkar is now heading a multi-million dollar pan-African conglomerate.

He believes that all business should be conducted for the right reasons - truth, love, and compassion.

"People should never underestimate these values. It's so important; they were applicable a hundred years ago, and they are still applicable today," Thakkar told the Epoch Times.

Originally from India, Thakkar's parents moved from Uganda in 1972 to the United Kingdom. When Thakker was 12 years old, the family sold their business and moved to Rwanda. Soon after, genocide broke out and the family fled back to Uganda.

“It was, of course, horrific … Today, I’m probably thankful I got to see that, because it was an experience which has reshaped my thinking and my philosophy,” said Thakkar in an interview with The Epoch Times.

It all started for Thakker at just 15 years old. He managed to borrow $6000 from his parents and started his own business selling computers. He purchased the computer supplies from Dubai and sold them for profit in Uganda. After constant flights back an forth between Uganda and Dubai, Thakkar settled down in Dubai. This is where he fouded the Mara Group, which currently employs over 7,000 people and operates in 26 different countries.

And Thakkar refuses to forget his roots. His company started in Africa, which is where most of his time is spent helping others in need.

"I'm a home product, I'm made in Africa. So I'm not someone who has done it in Silicon Valley, who quickly made an amazing amount of money by creating the right app. This was hardcore training on the ground in Africa," he said.

The Mara Foundation, created by Thakkar in 2009, provides young entrepreneurs with the knowledge they need to succeed in Africa. Part of the foundation's program connects successful entrepreneurs as mentors with new entrepreneurs.

Thakkar believes that it should be "impact", and not "wealth", that drives success.

"We were on the top philanthropists in Africa list, that is more of an exciting thing for me. That inspires others, you know I want to be on that list."

Full Story: Epoch Times | Image: Jasper Fakkert/The Epoch Times

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