Speaking in a recent interview with the Financial Times, Mara Group founder and CEO is said to be ‘ebulliently positive about the outlook for Africa’.
Headquartered in Dubai, Mara Group, which employs over 11,000 people across 24 countries, diversified from its humble origins of computer imports and now covers sectors including financial services, infrastructure development, real estate and investment advisory.
Supporting continental growth through a variety of approaches, Thakkar is also the partner of banking guru, Bob Diamond in Atlas Mara, a financial institution focused towards strengthening liquidity in the continent in order to maximise its potential for economic growth. Raising $325 million through its initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange on 17th December 2013, is the latest entry into Africa’s banking market with an aim to target low-income earners, multinational companies and the continents increasing consumer middle-class.
Speaking at the Reuters Africa Investment Summit earlier this month, chief executive, John Vitalo commented; “We want to do things outside the traditional banking model used in Africa. You can expect us to be broadly balanced between retail and wholesale banking, although this will be different from country to country.”
Atlas Mara’s existing banking business currently covers seven countries in Africa, having acquired minority stakes in Nigeria’s Union Banking, Botswana listed BancABC and the Development Bank of Rwanda.
Acknowledged as one of Africa’s youngest billionaires, Thakkar relocated his business to Dubai as he was unable to gain the sufficient leverage as an African company.