Elijah Kailikia: From Quitting Technical University of Mombasa Due to Poverty to Minting Thousands from Selling Cabbages

Elijah Kailikia Kithela, aged 34, is a vegetable trader specializing in the sale of cabbages at the renowned Kongowea market in Mombasa….CONTINUE READING

Despite not being a farmer himself, Kithela, affectionately known as ‘Mwananchi,’ has gained fame for his cabbage-selling venture, a business that has brought about a significant transformation in his life.

Hailing from a modest background, Kithela sought a better life in Mombasa. Through hard work and unwavering dedication, he has managed to not only improve his own circumstances but also positively impact the lives of his family. This transformation is particularly remarkable for someone who once pursued studies at the Mombasa Technical Training Institute.

Presently, Kithela stands out among the businesspeople in Kongowea market, dominating the trade in cabbages not only there but also in neighboring counties such as Kilifi and Kwale.

Born in Igembe North, Nkandone village, Kithela attended Naathu Primary School and later Muthuati High School, graduating in 2012. Despite his aspirations to continue education at the Technical University of Mombasa, financial constraints deterred him, prompting a shift toward establishing himself through small businesses in Mombasa.

Initially involved in selling khat to traders and transporting their goods upon arrival at the market, Kithela accumulated savings of Ksh 161,000. He used this capital to initiate a shop in Bamburi, Kisauni, but eventually sold it in 2013, venturing to Eldoret to explore a different business involving the sale of khat and various drinks.

Facing challenges, Kithela returned to Mombasa, determined to try his luck again in the Kongowea market. Working as a cabbage seller for Steven Nderu, a prominent vegetable vendor, marked a turning point in his business journey. Learning invaluable techniques from his employer and interacting with renowned traders, Kithela decided to step into the cabbage business himself.

With determination, he invested his savings of Ksh 100,000 to purchase vegetables from farmers and sell them at the Kongowea market. Despite initial setbacks and a loss of Ksh 30,000, Kithela persevered, revealing that by 2018, his business began flourishing. He sourced cabbages in bulk from various regions, attracting customers from Kilifi and Kwale counties. Due to trust and honesty, he secured an order to supply vegetables to the Naval Base camp in Mtongwe, Mombasa.

With accumulated profits, Kithela expanded his ventures, establishing a hotel and shop in different areas of Mombasa, alongside constructing houses for his parents in Meru.

However, challenges persist, including some customers escaping without paying debts and the impact of the rainy season on vegetable quality. Nonetheless, Kithela emphasizes that dedication and perseverance are the keys to business success. He advises young people to be innovative and proactive in shaping their futures instead of waiting for employment opportunities.