Growing up was definitely fun for most of us back in the days; granted we didn’t have endless options of high tech computerized gadgets keeping us company, however, we grew up with amazing tales: good old story-land was ever present with morals guiding us to be the ever obedient children.
Most of us grew up with the notion that parents should never be contradicted, however countless experiences have shown otherwise as the child should always have an opinion (Which might sometime be contrary to the parent’s). This was the case for Africa’s youngest billionaire- Ashish Thakkar.
Although, Ashish Thakkar’s parents had plans for their son which involved schooling, Thakkar was already one step ahead as he yearned to do something else- business.
It all started when his parents landed him with his first computer; one night during dinner his father’s friend saw the computer and asked how much he got it, Thakkar’s unconscious business acumen spoke up as he added US$100 more to the price.
Suddenly after delivering and receiving cash for the transaction the next day, it dawned on him and his eyes opened to a world of endless possibilities. Excited with this new revelation, at only 15, he informed his father about his plans to set up a small shop during the two months summer holiday and after the break elapsed he would shut the shop and return to school and was therefore permitted.
However, after the two months expired Thakkar didn’t fulfill his side of the bargain as he continued his business, but got found out and he and his parents reached the conclusion that he could proceed provided he would get demoted to a class below, if things didn’t work. Thakkar evidently didn’t get demoted.
It wasn’t a smooth scale for the young lad as he travelled every weekend to Dubai because he couldn’t engage services of shipment and cargoes due to insufficient capital. Commendably, he held tight and discovered a vacuum he could fill: with so many people hustling in Dubai doing the same thing as everyone else- buying and transporting IT equipment, he decided to become a channel for distribution.
Hence in 1996, at 15 and with just US$6,000 he set up an office to supply IT hardware to African countries.
Today, the company- ‘Mara Group’ he started many years ago has now been labeled ‘Africa’s Largest IT Company’ and is currently now in 24 countries with 7,000 workers. Mara Group has also broadened and diversified into other spheres ranging from: telecoms infrastructure, packaging manufacture, hotels, conference centres and shopping malls, a paper mill, and thousands of acres of prime agricultural land.
It might be soothing to think of Ashish Thakkar as one of those rich dudes who just got lucky by being born into wealth and all he had to do was simply focus and aspire; on the contrary, things were a whole lot different as he started off as a refugee in Rwanda alongside his parents.
No fear, Thakkar leaves us with some tips for success – ‘You need to have that passion. You need to have that vision. And the most important thing is you need to have a very high moral ground.’