One of Africa’s Emerging Entrepreneurs
Coming from a modest background with strong moral family upbringing, Leelai developed her entrepreneurial passion from her Mother, Madam Nora Kpukuyou, who has for over 30years been a small business woman. Madam Nora Kpukuyou was able to inspire Leelai to develop the right attitude for business, approach issues with ethical values and confidence, demonstrate self-discipline and reach out to the less fortunate in society. These guiding principles served as foundation and source of inspiration to Leelai’s sturdy entrepreneurial progress.
Why pursuing her undergraduate studies at the African Methodist Episcopal University in Liberia, Leelai took advantage of the niche market opportunity on campus to start selling custom-made jewelries and fashion cloths to her peers. During vacation, she traveled by road to Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria to purchase various items and sold directly to her target market. Selling from the trunk of a chartered taxi cab, Leelai was one of the few Liberian businesswomen that supplied corporate suits and other fashion accessories to ladies at the various banks, private and public corporate entities, etc. This marks the beginning of her business career.
Following her graduation from the University in 2010, Leelai devoted full-time service at her business entity, Mini Mall Enterprise Inc., a retail and wholesale outlet in central Monrovia (Benson & Johnson Streets) where she stocked fast moving consumer goods, household items, clothing, etc. imported from the USA and China. Her innovative and marketing skills led her to develop a commission-based distribution model. She targeted women and youth who were mainly high school dropouts, teen-aged mothers, ex-child soldiers from the Liberian civil war and supplied them various goods on credit to sell and pay the cost on daily and weekly basis while retaining the profit.
This model proved successful and scores of these less fortunate women and youth who otherwise would not have had any formal employment due to lack of formal education/qualification, are now been empowered by this scheme and have moved on to becoming self- sufficient and productive citizens of Liberia.
Leelai is one of Liberia’s and Africa’s emerging entrepreneurs with a brand in international trade.
She has a focus on private enterprise development with keen interest in youth and women empowerment through entrepreneurship.
Today, Leelai is the CEO of Mini Mall Enterprise Incorporated, (MMEI) a Liberian-owned business conglomerate with functional business units in real estate, petroleum, retail stores/general merchandise as well as business consultancy service and she is looking forward to expanding into enterprise brokerage, tourism, ICT innovations and Agriculture.
Leelai is also the Board Chair of Sanoyea Realty Incorporated, a subsidiary of Mini Mall Enterprise Incorporated. She is widely known in Liberia as a role model and mentor to many entrepreneurs, youth and women.
She is the current Secretary-General of the Liberian Business Association (LIBA).
- Advocacy for greater support to Liberia Domestic Private Sector.
- Negotiation for access to finance for Liberian Owned-Businesses.
- Empowerment of underserved women and youth through a commission-based selling of goods.
- Guest Speaker at several women and youth programs.
- Key representative of the Liberian Business Association at various local and international meetings, conferences and workshops – Mentor for Cohort 1 of the CHF 10,000 Women Certificate Program for Women Entrepreneurship Program.
- Panelist for the 4th MSME Conference in Liberia on the topic “25% Procurement Law, Liberian Business Registry and Public Procurement & Concession Commission" vendor registration.
Leelai has participated in many international conferences and fora including the IMF annual meeting in Washington, DC, ILO conference in Geneva, Switzerland and the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Geneva and Sweden that led to Liberia’s accession to the WTO in 2016.