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Ashish J. Thakkar is The Future Awards Young Person of the Year

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ashish-thakkar-mara31 year old Ashish J. Thakkar, is the Future Awards Young person of the year. The founder and Managing Director of Mara Group, a conglomerate he founded at the age of 15 runs IT, real estate, manufacturing companies, and more with operations in 26 countries, spanning four continents, and employing over 7,000 people worldwide.

He was recently appointed by Dell inc to its Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence Advisory board.

The Future Awards Africa, described by the World Bank as ‘The Nobel Prize for young Africans’, recognise and reward the success and achievements of young people aged between 18 and 31 living in Africa. They have been awarded in 15 separate categories, including: advocacy and activism, business, agriculture, education and fashion.

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Apart from Thakkar, 14 other individuals were also named winners of ‘The Future Awards Africa’ 2013. The winners were announced at a ceremony held in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, adding the list of winners to over 120 and 1,200 nominees in Nigeria in just eight years.

Open this year to countries from around Africa, the awards so 85 young Africans from Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Liberia apply to receive awards. The Awards were presented in partnership with Microsoft, the British Council, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Youth Development, the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Access Bank.

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According to Chude Jideonwo, executive director of The Future Project and co-founder of The Future Awards Africa, ” This year has been the most difficult year to judge to date, with so many compelling and inspiring stories of young Africans, all of who deserve to be recognised and rewarded. The winners of this year’s Awards will go on to inspire a new generation of leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs across Africa and we’re looking forward to seeing the winners go on to touch thousands of lives across our great continent, leaving behind a legacy that will be recognised for years to come.”

The Future Awards Africa, described by the World Bank as ‘The Nobel Prize for young Africans’, recognise and reward the success and achievements of young people aged between 18 and 31 living in Africa. They have been awarded in 15 separate categories, including: advocacy and activism, business, agriculture, education and fashion.

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The winners of this year’s Awards are:


The winner is Ashish J. Thakkar, age 31 from Uganda.

He is the Managing Director of Mara Group, a conglomerate he founded at the age of 15 which includes IT, real estate, manufacturing companies, and more with operations in 26 countries, spanning four continents, and employing over 7,000 people worldwide.


This award is given to a young person who has demonstrated exceptional vision, passion, and commitment to a social or developmental cause and made a measurable impact on lives.

This year’s winner is Orode Uduaghan-Okpu, age 24 from Nigeria for her work supporting breast and cervical cancer.


This award is given to a young person who has remarkably changed the lives of a community or communities.

The winner of this year’s award is Ife Adebayo, age 30 from Nigeria.

A web developer, Adebayo raised funds to build a block of classrooms for the students at St Michael’s Anglican Primary School in Lagos after visiting the school where he saw students being taught in dilapidated buildings. The project was completed in April 2013.


This award is given to a young person who is reaching new frontiers as an innovator, publisher, business owner, entrepreneur, or professional in new media.

The winner of this year’s award is Kingsley Ezeani, age 23 from Nigeria.

At age 18, Kingsley Ezeani founded ‘Information Nigeria’ a news portal which has become one of the most popular websites in Nigeria with 12 full-time staff, over 100 volunteers, over 500,000 Facebook fans, it is one of the 20 most visited Nigerian websites with over 10 Million monthly visitors. His passion for development led to the founding of ‘Crowd sourced Education’ a project which earned him the 2011 I.T.U fellowship, he was also a finalist in the I.T.U Young Innovators Contest in Geneva, Switzerland and one of Nigeria’s delegates to the World Business Dialogue, the largest student

Conference in the world.


This award is given to a writer, reporter, presenter, producer, and other professionals working in the journalism profession who has demonstrated excellence in the work of telling of stories and bringing the news to the public.

The winner of the award is Toyosi Ogunsey, age 29 years from Nigeria.

Ogunseye is the news editor of Sunday Punch. Recently promoted to acting editor for the Sunday Punch, she was adjudged Science Journalist of the Year (2012) at the Nigeria Academy of Science Media Award. Her report, ‘The rich also cry: A tale of deaths and diseases in a heavily polluted upscale estate’, focused on the concerns of the residents of a heavily polluted upper-middle class estate in Lagos. The second part: ‘The rich also cry: Killer metals in the blood ‘detailed the results of blood and urine tests conducted on the residents, which confirmed the presence of killer doses of metals in their bodies. This report, which was the winning entry, saved lives as well as also championed a policy change as the factory that was polluting the environment, was shut down. She also won the CNN Journalist of the Year in 2011.


This award is given to an entrepreneur who has demonstrated extraordinary vision, leadership, and commitment to running a business enterprise, and recorded measurable business success in terms of growth (profit, market share, employees) and/or in terms of his or her reputation (creativity, quality, and aesthetic).

The winner is Saeed Jumah, age 28 from Nigeria.

Jumar is the CEO of The Smile Shop in Kano, a business he started in 2012 with N600,000 from his savings and investment from two friends. He has in the last 18 months months built the dentistry into a N3,000,000 annual turnover business with an over 150 clientele base and 5 staff. Saheed, who is passionate about dentistry, dedicated time every month to teaching secondary school students about the professional, and offers free dental checks for children.


This award is given to a professional or a technocrat who has made an outstanding contribution in the private sector.

The winner is Kayode Temenu, age 29 from Nigeria.

Temenu is Supply Planning Manager at Unilever Nigeria, a senior management role where he is charged with the responsibility of planning supply point of view all the company’s manufacturing plants – 3 plants (5 factories) and two business supplier manufacturing factories. Before his appointment to this position in 2013, he led a companywide savings initiative project at Unilever Central Africa called Cash and Cost Challenge which delivered a savings of just over 20 million Euros in 2010 versus a target of 16.6 million Euros, which was the biggest in Unilever Central Africa for that year, and the second biggest in among countries within Unilever North Africa, Middle East and Central Africa. When he worked at Unilever Vietnam, Temenu was the Process Development Project Lead/Process Engineer at the company’s toothpaste plant, he was the first black man to work in the plant and within a span of 6 months led the team to deliver 16 innovation toothpaste products for countries in Africa and South East Asia. He was first appointed into a senior management role in 2012 as the Plant manager, Personal Products Factory where brands like Close Up, Pepsodent, Pears product range (Lotion, Oil, Cream & Jelly) at 29; the youngest person to be on that role in Unilever Central Africa before moving to his current role. He also oversees all Unilever Nigeria exports to Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.


This award is given to an entrepreneur, advocate, or professional who has demonstrated vision, leadership, and commitment and made a measurable impact in the field of agriculture, and agro-related causes and organisations.

The winner is Precious Peter Nweke, age 31 from Nigeria.

Nweke owns Pranke Farms, a fish farming business located at Umudike-Umuajuloke, Omuma L.G.A., and Rivers State. He started the business in 2009 and in the last four years the business have grown through various innovations in Aqua-culture which includes; modern spawning techniques, use of natural growth enhancers, modern designs of fish ponds, use of enzymes for pond conditioning, salting techniques, and fish feed production techniques. Pranke Farms is known to produce high quality fish with attractive pigmentation and good taste, due to the natural enhancers used.


This award is given to a young person who has demonstrated measurable achievement in the field of fashion and style. This includes designers, photographers, models, stylists, make-up artistes, entrepreneurs, and business owners.

The winner is Aisha Bello, age 24 from Nigeria.

Bello shot into limelight when she won the 3rd edition of Nigeria’s Next Super Model, a talent show for runway fashion models in 2011. In 2012, she won Best Model of the World in Bulgaria. Since winning the talent hunt, she’s taken the fashion world by storm. Bello is on high demand by world designers and in the past year, she has walked the runway at the BET’s Hit the Runway (2012), Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg, South Africa (2012), Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Cape Town, South Africa (2012), Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Malta (2013), London Fashion Week (2013), Ebonylife TV Launch (2013), and New York Couture Fashion Week (2012). Bello has also been featured on Bouygue’s Construction 2013 Calendar, Fashion TV in 2012, and she was one of Fashion TV Angels for its official launch in Nigeria in 2012. She’s surely a star to watch.


This award recognizes extraordinary achievement in the promotion and the preservation of the best of our arts and culture. This includes young creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, artists, filmmakers, and cartoonists.

The winner is Kenneth Gyang age 27 from Nigeria.

Kenneth Gyang is a writer and director that has been working in film and television since 2006 having graduated from the National Film Institute in Jos. Notable projects in television included working as a director for the BBC’s Wetin Dey, MTV’s MTV Meets, EbonyLife TV’s The Fattening Room and Televista’s Finding Aisha.In what has been a vintage year, he directed ‘Measuring Time’, a documentary film on healthcare in Niger state that won Best Documentary and Technical Excellence Awards at AFRICAST 2012 and also the hugely successful film ‘Karangiya’, a cross-cultural film bridging the North and South divide. Kenneth is the co-founder of Cinema Kpatakpata, a production company based primarily in Nigeria with the sole aim of producing regular stream of popular films shot within Africa generally and Nigeria in particular. To date he has directed two major feature films: the political love story ‘Blood and Henna’ (2012) which showed as part of Nigeria’s Art and Culture showcased during the 2012 London Olympics and Cinema Kpatakpata’s debut ‘Confusion Na Wa’ (2013), which received funding by the Rotterdam Film Festival’s Hubert Bals Fund and despite its relatively small budget, won Best Nigerian Film as well as declared Africa’s Best Film of the Year by the continent’s most credible jury at the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Awards.


This award is given to a young person(s) who has excelled in running a business or organisation whose service or work enhances supports or provides solutions for SMEs.

The winner is Ayodeji Adewunnmi, Opeyemi Awoyemi and Olalekan Olude, ages 29, 25 and 29 from Nigeria.

The trio of Adewunmi, Awoyemi, and Olude, founded Jobberman, described by Forbes Africa as “Nigeria’s biggest job search engine and aggregator. Jobberman went live in August 2009, and today the site attracts over 50,000 unique users each day. Through simple, yet cutting-edge technology, Jobberman helps link qualified personnel to the right job opportunities. Jobberman is one of the few companies in Nigeria’s tech space that enjoy venture capital backing.” The Jobberman team was listed in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Best Young Entrepreneurs in Africa by Forbes.


This award is given to a young person who has recorded measurable impact in advancing education through advocacy, activism, innovation, enterprise, and, institution building.

The winner for this award is Ottoh Oroondam, age 26 from Nigeria.

Orondaam is a social crusader, a developmental worker, an analyst, and a social entrepreneur. He is the initiator of the Slum to School Project and Net a Child Project, which are both geared towards lending a voice and offering a platform to bring to the fore the educational, health and social needs of disadvantaged children, and providing succour for them. His Slum to School Project provided complete educational scholarships for 118 orphans and vulnerable children in Makoko community and also provided school uniforms, sandals, canvass, school bags, books and other psychosocial support. Orondaam was winner of the Lagos State Honours Award 2012 as the most outstanding corps member and is a nominee for the MDG Presidential Award.

13. The Future Prize Young Media Entrepreneur of the Year 

The winner is Uche Pedro, age 32 from Nigeria

Uche Pedro, a new media entrepreneur who founded popular Nigerian blog Bella Naija

14. The Future Awards Prize in Science & Technology

This award is given to a researcher, scientist, innovator, inventor who has distinguished herself or himself and achieved a measurable breakthrough in the field of science and technology.

The winner is Hugo Obi age 32 from Nigeria.

Obi is founder of Maliyo Games, a Nigerian-based start-up specializing in creating casual games with African themes. Maliyo Games launched in May 2012 with the goal of sharing the experiences of everyday Africans with a global audience through games with over 10 gaming titles including Okada Ride, Aboki, Kidnapped, and Mosquito Smasher. Obi and his work has been featured on BBC, CNN, CNBC Africa, and DEMO events.

15. The Future Awards Prize in Entertainment Talent

This award is given to a young person in the entertainment industry who has recorded remarkable achievement in music, acting, dance, television, and other fields of entertainment.

The winner is O.C Ukeje age 32 from Nigeria

OC Ukeje has featured in various stage plays and television dramas. He was in Niyi Ogunsanwo’s “What the Steward Saw”alongside Stella Damasus, and “The Engagement”. On television, Ukeje has featured in BBC Trust’s “Wetin Dey”, and PeaceAnyiam Osigwe’s “GRA Women”. He won best actor drama in the 2013 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for his role in the movie, “Two Brides and a Baby” and was nominated for the 2013 Best Actor Award at the Africa Movies Academy Awards.

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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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