When Patrick Mwangi started selling second-hand clothing (mitumba) As a second grade student, he did this not for money but to buy a thing or two that his family could not afford.
As a student at Laikipia High School, he bought clothes from a supplier that he later sold to friends and schoolmates over the holidays. He continued his hobby, which now became a risk even after graduating from high school.
Thanks to his mini-business, he looked better and dressed better. However, an argument between him and one of his friends brought his hobby to a standstill, causing him to flee his home in Nyahururu.
“I got into an argument with a friend of mine, it was so serious that it became a police case because it happened on someone’s property,” said Mwangi.
Patrick Mwangi poses with some of the vehicles he has sold
Mwangi arrived in Thika where he would lie down while the dust settled at home. Here he met a friend who delivered Mitumba articles. Things had changed – what he used to do as a hobby – he had to do it now to survive.
On his first day he asked his friend to get him 10 jumpers, won by women, each costing Ksh 100. He managed to sell all of the sweaters in one day and make a profit.
Soon the need to survive was overtaken by the need to thrive. Mwangi decided to source his own shares from the Gikomba market in Nairobi, which he supplied, albeit in minimal quantities.
As he went about his business he hoped to find better business, and when fate threw one on his path. He was called to Malindi for a job with a non-governmental organization (NGO).
However, it was not all rosy for him and the other applicants. Mwangi remained unpaid for up to seven months and barely survived. Fortunately, another window of opportunity opened.
“I got a job as a driver in one of the hotels. The job lasted three months and I was able to save 25,000 Ksh ”, he revealed.
The resilient entrepreneur used the money as capital to set up the Mitumba business in Mombasa. He started out as a street vendor, selling clothes on the street before a well-wisher pulled the strings for a small stall.
Here he sold women’s clothing and shoes and opened his first shop in 2013, which was followed by two more. However, it was a special wish of his father-in-law that brought him a new business idea.
“He gave me his car and his log book and told me he needed money,” he said.
His father wanted him to sell the car. With no experience of selling cars, it took him almost a month and a half to sell the car, and the Ksh 50,000 commission was an incentive he hadn’t imagined.
At this point he developed more interest in car trading. He began to grow into the business and became the contact person in his hometown for anyone who wanted to sell their old vehicle or buy a used car.
As expected from any new venture, the dealership has had its ups and downs. However, he still managed to save some money from the commission he earned.
Mwangi bought his first car, a Toyota Vitz, for Ksh 270,000 in 2016, which was a good deal. After a while, he sold it for Ksh 380,000 for an even better price.
As he expanded his network, he met a Pakistani citizen who advised him to start selling new cars that had higher profit margins. He took the advice without asking how.
The young car dealer imported his first new vehicle, a Mercedes Benz C200. Although he managed to return the money, he invested but made minimal profit.
He went back to his friend for advice he should have asked. When he imported the same type of car a few months later, he saw the fruits of the trade.
“I imported the same car. This time I committed murder,” he said.
Known today as Mwangi wa Mercedes, the young man who left his home in Nyahururu is now a renowned luxury car dealer in Mombasa. He sells both high quality new and used cars.
At home, the case that led him to leave was settled out of court and he is now on good terms with the man he had an argument with.
Patrick Mwangi poses with one of the vehicles he has sold