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Ashish J. Thakkar

Founder, Mara Group

1996, founded first business at age of 15 with $5,000 loan. Since then, has grown company from small IT business in Uganda to pan-African investment group with operations in 25 African countries, spanning technology, financial services, manufacturing and real estate. 2009, founded Mara Foundation to support emerging entrepreneurs through mentorship and venture philanthropy; its Mara Mentor mobile app connects entrepreneurs with experienced business leaders. Advises several heads of state in sub-Saharan Africa. Young Global Leader (2012). Chair: UN Foundation Global Entrepreneurship Council. Member: The Africa Center. 2015, will become Africa's second astronaut by joining Virgin Galactic's maiden voyage to space.