With so many investors, financiers and much of the business world looking to the African continent, Mara Mentor is bound to receive much buzz. Sure, Mara Mentor?s founder is none other than Uganda?s Ashish Thakkar of the Mara Group and Mara Foundation, who is widely recognized as Africa?s youngest billionaire and one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs on the continent.
But Mara Mentor?s platform offers a new model for young emerging entrepreneurs by filling a need. Eleven million youth are expected to enter Africa?s labor market every year for the next decade. At this rate, the provision of productive employment opportunities will be critical to economic growth in the region. If strategically positioned, the continent has the potential to be not only the ?youngest? in the world, but one of the most prosperous. With eager minds on the ground, it will ultimately be important for youth to be given the tools and opportunities to succeed in their own ventures or as they join small businesses. ?Mara Mentor?s mission is to encourage idea and knowledge sharing among Africa?s most promising young entrepreneurs, inspiring a collaborative approach to business startup and growth. In a way, it really is a social good startup designed to prepare young entrepreneurs to successfully fulfill their passions.
On Friday the 12th of September, Thakkar, along with Ghanaian President Dramani Mahama officially launched ?an online community that seeks to connect ambitious entrepreneurs with experienced and inspiring leaders? in Ghana, West Africa. And true to its word, its roster is an impressive list of role models and startup legends who span across multiple industries, some of whom include the Startup Grind Inc?s Derek Anderson, New York corporate lawyer and startup advisor Binta Niambi Brown, Nigerian Professor Pat Utomi and Tara Durotoye, lawyer and CEO of House of Tara International.? Mentees are offered the opportunity to search for mentors within their industry, country and interests and reach out for personalized advice while building their networks.
Indeed, the Ashish Thakkar brand lends itself well to pioneering this type of support for African youth. At the age of fifteen, Thakkar went against the grain and left school to start his first company. What started as a perceived risk at the time has grown to become the Mara Group, a billion dollar company with over ten thousand employees across twenty-two African countries, the United Arab Emirates and India. And by the way, we failed to mention that he is barley in his mid-thirties.
Thakkar truly has a vision for African youth that is much bigger than him. With a successful launch in Nigeria and Ghana, Mara Mentor is gradually capturing and engaging a population that has a lot to offer not only their countries, but the world.