The devalued Naira is a blessing for Nigerians

If I said to you that a devalued Naira is a blessing, you’d probably turn towards me yelling “your fada” with as much venom as a village cobra. But if you think about it deeply and understand a few things, this tough pill might be a lot easier to swallow. 

Since time immemorial, Nigerians have always valued a strong Naira. My mum regaled me with stories of N1 getting $2 on the streets of Lagos; those were the days chicken went for dentals. However, the Naira has been on a free fall since; plummeting faster than a falling rock. Because we import everything, the fall means life is difficult for the average Nigerian Joe.

So, it’s almost foolhardy convincing Nigerians that a devalued Naira can be a good thing.

How can a weak Naira even be a good thing?

Let’s start with the internet.

The internet aids the average Nigerian’s discoverability 

It’s one of those things that our politicians and money bags haven’t been able to ruin, per se. With the internet, every Nigerian has a chance to sell their services and even goods across the globe without leaving their homes in Ilorin or Kaura Namoda. As long as you have something to sell.

The internet makes every one of us discoverable – competing with everyone in the world, irrespective of the corner of the earth where they are holed up. All you have to do is be on the right platform and showcase your quality. With the right keywords, your services could be found by anyone in any country.

Being found is one thing, after all, others are being found in other countries as well. But with our weak Naira, converted to USD, suddenly, your services and goods can now be found at a bargain.

The opportunities exist ..

If you think you have to export something physical, you are missing the point of globalization. Every soft skill can be sold as a service online. 

As a writer, you could get access to tons of writing gigs online. Software developers are in high demand especially when you share the same time zone as Europe where the demand for engineers is so hot it could melt a stone; content creators are being sought after from every part of the globe. Global firms are in need of designers, virtual assistants, analysts, etc. The world is quite literally your playground.

Slow your roll …

Granted, these opportunities exist and are ripe for the taking but only those who are ready to put in the work and understand the right kind of work to put in will go home smiling; tapping into these openings won’t be a piece of cake. A lot is required, the stakes are higher and the competition pool is deeper.

Let’s start with the basic requirement being a constant access to good internet (our service providers are chuckling at this one). In this Digital Age, internet access has rightly established itself as a need but we haven’t quite hacked the model for providing good and affordable unlimited internet services just yet. Perhaps, internet connectivity should get in line for a fix behind it’s older brother, electricity. But that’s not to say we don’t have a couple of reliable providers keeping Nigerians connected to the global village. 

It goes without saying (but I’ll still say it) that when trying to tap into the global market, lowering the communication barrier is important; your command of English, the global lingua franca, must be impeccable. proper articulation can be quite advantageous – whether in your speech or writing. Speak well, speak clearly and apply the same to your writing. People recognizing your genius rests heavily on you being able to communicate it. 

Beyond the basic requirements or the skills you have, being professional, responsible and having a keen eye for quality can really put you over the top. Resist that urge to tell your clients to “manage it” when you have produced subpar work; the global market is not as forgiving of mediocrity as we have somehow learnt to tolerate as Nigerians. Be open and flexible; continuous improvement should be your holy grail. 

And my personal favorite, being accountable makes you even more attractive in the market; don’t disappear on your clients or give excuses after the fact; instead, let them know ahead of time if there will be any deviations or if you will be unavailable for a while; trust is everything, especially when building a borderless proposition. 

What’s in it for you? Money.. And that’s just the start 

In some twisted way, this is perhaps one of the few times a devalued currency can serve its intended purpose; the foremost economic logic behind a weaker currency is that it makes a country’s exports cheaper and more competitive in the foreign market – this is supposed to serve as an incentive that boosts exports. The economic quagmire we seem to have found ourselves in is: a weaker currency, a struggling commodity exports economy which is also highly import-dependent (shedding premium tears)

The silver lining here is that our human capital exports seem to be thriving and this is perhaps the loophole with which Nigerians are taking advantage of a weaker Naira whilst they patiently wait for the country to heal itself. 

The pay from working abroad can be amazing. N200,000 here as a writer, could seamlessly be $2,000 net from working remotely; N400,000 as a developer could be $5,000 and a designer could knock off about $500 per good design, and that’s about one every couple of days… do the math. 

And my grandma said

Bi a gun iyan ninu ewe; ti a se’be ninu epo epa. Eni to ma yo ma yo.

(cha ching!)

Lendsqr is solving the African credit problems

With years spent in banking, technology, and payments and a background in engineering, I’m able to understand how foundational systems become the catalyst for growth. This understanding of foundational systems gave me the belief that Lendsqr has a unique opportunity to spur the growth of the African economy by being a leading lending infrastructure provider across Africa.

With a population of 1.4b people, the majority born just after the Y2K bug, the demand for smartphones, internet, the good things of life, is growing at a rapid pace. Many of these, including education, health, etc. would need to be financed with credit. But access to credit continues to be a challenge which becomes a barrier for  the young woman in Accra from realizing her dreams and the lad in Kampala from going to the school of his choice.. 

We have witnessed the rise of digital lenders in Africa, particularly Nigeria and Kenya. This is driven by the massive adoption of smartphones, the continual reduction in the cost of internet data, and the relentless push of financial inclusion by central banks and fintechs going to the last mile with agency networks. While some of this growth has been driven by COVID over the last two years, experts are unanimous in the belief that the changes are a signal of future growth for Africans.

What problems do we have?

Africans continue to struggle to get credit, often in life and death scenarios. And even when they do get it, the interest rates charged are usually so punitive; many have commited suicide due to the pressure from lenders and their inability to repay their loans. On the flip side, lenders continue to deal with high-default and zero consequences for serial defaulters.

While technology and access to data powering the underwriting process can solve these problems, lenders lack access to quality data and sustainable technology, and even when those are available, they are so expensive that even VC backed lenders can hardly afford them. The diverse integration needed by a lender to various KYC providers and  payments systems also requires a level of expertise and focus that these lenders do not have.

Lenders just want to lend; not to become programmers.

How is Lendsqr solving this problem?

Lendsqr is building a cutting edge lending infrastructure powered by technology, data, integrations, and an ecosystem; providing lenders an easy way to digitize their lending in a scalable, sustainable, ethical, and most importantly, profitable way. Lendsqr has built integrations to some of the best payment processors, leading credit bureaus, and transactional data providers. These integrations and ecosystem play are often extremely difficult to pull off, providing Lendsqr with a unique opportunity to position itself at the confluence of credit and what people use credit for – shopping, health, cashflow, etc. 

By enabling smaller lenders to scale up, Lendsqr is guaranteeing Africans, starting with Nigerians, access to credit that would create a powerful long-term, consequently expanding our economy significantly in the coming years.

And this approach isn’t strange. We’ve seen the humble WordPress power 37% of global web pages despite large content owners like CNN, WaPo, etc. Shopify and Etsy power global e-commerce despite the might of Amazon and eBay. Lendsqr will power thousands of lenders who want simple, affordable, and smart but invisible tech to lend to millions of Africans.

Over the last couple of years, Lendsqr has helped hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have access to credit while helping lenders reach at a scale that is unprecedented and with technology previously found with only the highest funded VC backed lenders. But starting from March 1, 2022, Lendsqr would be making the same technology available to lenders for free. Any lender can sign up and start disbursing loans to their first customers within 5 minutes. The team has done the magic of hiding all the madness of being a digitized lender behind a single click. 

I’m excited to be part of this ecosystem of lenders, partners, data providers as we begin our journey to use technology, data, and partnerships to guarantee credit for every man and woman in Africa and beyond.