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Youngest African billionaire speaks at legacy series in Accra today

All is set for the Ugandan entrepreneur, Ashish J. Thakkar, to deliver what is expected to be a thought-provoking address at this year’s Legacy Series at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra today.

The Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF) is partnering the Mara Foundation to deliver a knowledge-based forum dubbed ‘Legacy Series’.

The MEF has decided to provide several initiatives aimed at youth empowerment, mentorship and advanced innovations in Ghana and West Africa.

Preparing youth for job market

The President of the MEF, Ambassador Ashim Morton, commended the government for the initiatives set forth to prepare the youth for the job market.

He also spoke about the foundation’s programmes to support business enterprise and corporate Ghana.

“The Millennium Excellence Foundation will launch an online entrepreneurship programme that will be accessible to all students with access to mobile phones and internet and to engage them for sustainable development.

“Mara Corporation Limited (MCL), the conglomerate founded by the Ugandan entrepreneur, Mr Thakkar, is also set to launch a smartphone in 2018, which aims to be a low cost, high quality and super-efficient smartphone tailor-made for the African continent,” Ambassador Morton said.

“We want to be part of this change,” said Mara Founder Thakkar, in a conversation with the Daily Graphic.

“Just look at the uptake of mobile money in Africa and imagine the opportunity this continent has to leap ahead through the use of mobile technology. Right now, Africans have to choose between a quality phone and one they can afford. It’s slowing us down. With mobile internet access and a couple of handy apps, a smartphone can create jobs and enable innovation. Beyond creating and consuming content, a smartphone can raise the GDP of sub-Saharan Africa!

“Across Africa and in other emerging markets, we need smartphones that are both extremely affordable and of high quality,” Mr Thakkar explained.

“These phones will give people the ability to improve their lives through accessing information online and using them for trade and financial services,” he said.

Women entrepreneurs

Plans are also underway to engage youth entrepreneurs to develop solutions that will ride on the MARA X platform.

The Mara Foundation also addresses women enterprise. Mara Women is designed specifically to engage and develop the next generation of women entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Mara Women aims to offer women business development training and mentoring, through Mara Mentor programme which will exponentially increase the intellectual, financial and social capital of women while strengthening the global entrepreneurship sisterhood around the world.

The main objectives of Mara Women are designed to unleash the potential of women to inspire women and promote gender equality.

“In short, our model promotes improving access and availability of finance to women, in turn creating an increase in women—owned businesses which will increase women’s contribution to economic growth and further develop the creation of inspirational role models and facilitate the increase of the percentage of women holding executive and non-executive roles in the boardroom,” Mara Foundation explained.

The MEF will also offer several programmes targeted at the youth and women in Ghana during the next few months.

In a related development, Mr Thakkar is expected to pay a courtesy call on the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, before flying back home.
Mr Thakkar was a recipient of the Millennium Excellence Foundation’s LAAP Prize together with former Nigerian President, Mr Jonathan Goodluck, Haile Gebreselassie of Ethopia and Calestous Juma of Kenya.

Ashish Thakkar

Mr Thakkar is a Dubai-based British entrepreneur and founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation, as well as a co-founder of Atlas Mara.

He was born in the United Kingdom (UK), but moved to East Africa as a teenager before founding Mara Group, a Pan-African conglomerate, at the age of 15.

He is Africa’s youngest billionaire and was included in Fortune magazine’s list of the top “40 Under 40” in 2013.

His company, Mara Group, is a young and dynamic Pan-African investment group with operations in the banking, real estate, infrastructure and technology sectors.


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