The access to credit is a fundamental human right

The lack of access to financial services or credit can often lead to fatal consequences for those restricted. The value of life cannot be toyed with, as such, anything that could prevent needless death or anguish must be a fundamental human right. This is where access to basic credit must be elevated to the level of a fundamental right.

Four years ago, I shared a post on LinkedIn where I asserted that financial inclusion should be a fundamental human right. Years later, I still think so. Let me tell you why.

My argument stems from the fact that if someone is excluded from the financial system, it adversely impacts their access to opportunities and ultimately, their chance at survival. People can die from being excluded. It might sound overly dramatic to some but it’s what it is. I don’t believe that financial inclusion and access to credit are privileges that should be reserved for a select few; they’re rights everyone should have for a fair chance at a decent life.

Access to credit is a life and death determinant.

Let’s talk about human rights …

The basic decency of being human is enshrined in certain rights, yes? We know this, even without them being codified. But living with consciousness of these rights—not murdering anyone, treating people with respect, etc.— is basically what sets us apart from animals. And even to a certain extent, some animals treat themselves well. If you notice that the higher the animal is in the chain in terms of what we perceive as intelligence, the better they seem to treat themselves. 

Throughout history, from the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, to the modern world that we live in, the respect for basic human rights is what really creates a cohesive and organized civilization and once those rights start getting trampled on, what you see is a disintegration of society.

The United Nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), defined certain fundamental human rights which include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many others. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination. And if we take a closer look at it, when a person breaks certain laws, they violate these rights e.g. if you kill someone, you take away their right to life, etc.

But as the world evolves, the conversation about what constitutes harm to others is becoming more nuanced. So it means that you may not need to kill someone by inflicting physical harm on them but if you take away their ability to operate and restrict them in some non-physical way, you can still be responsible for their death. 

For example, if you were hurt and I took away any means for you to contact emergency services and you died, would it be accurate to say I caused your death? Yes. But did I touch you? No.

In some western countries, emergency numbers are typically programmed to work even when your phone is without a network or even if you don’t have an active call plan. So if a hacker cuts off access to 911, resulting in any deaths, such a person could easily be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter. That’s how sacrosanct the right to life is.

What do human rights have to do with financial inclusion?

In the world we live in today, without access to financial services and credit, it’s quite difficult, almost impossible even, for the average person to lead a good life. That’s the truth. I share my views about this quite often and I know I’m not crazy for thinking this. 

Kumar (2014) built on Muhammad Yunus’ position to assert that if poverty is the absence of all human rights, then it means there is a case for considering access to finance or credit as a human right. This author also submitted that access to adequate and affordable finance has been recognized as an effective tool to realize the objective of inclusive economic growth yet, finance has rarely been connected to the robust discourse on human rights issues. I agree.

Think of it like the hierarchy of needs for the times we live in. It’s all interwoven. At the basic level, you have the infrastructure,then on top of that, you have telecommunications and financial services and finally, access to a decent life.

Take a look at the countries we call successful. The countries we all want to emigrate to sometimes, the ones in OECD with high rankings in human development, even though access to credit and financial inclusion may not be explicitly defined as rights and key drivers of their prosperity and high quality of life, it’s implied. In a way, one might even argue that the recognized human rights support a justification for financial inclusion to be accepted as a fundamental right.

A place like the UK doesn’t even have a written constitution, but the laws are still there, silently doing their job. Similarly, in the developed nations, financial inclusion and access to credit are a given. It’s not something you can take away—it’s woven into the very fabric of their society; just as easily as the rights to life or freedom of expression and all other expectations that make us human and set us apart from animals..

This issue is similar to how climate change issues have always been there but now it’s in the limelight and it’s got everyone’s paying attention. This is the level of seriousness and attention with which people having access to basic financial services and credit as a fundamental human right, should also be treated. This is even more crucial for the less developed countries than the developed ones.

We need to make it clear for everyone. Defining access to financial services and credit as a basic right elevates it to a level of consciousness where people understand that it’s not a privilege; it’s crucial for anyone to have a meaningful life. Leaders and regulators need to understand that you shouldn’t play with financial inclusion the same way you don’t play with healthcare.

People also need to know that this is their right and make demands.This isn’t about entitlement, it’s about what people deserve. On the flip side, people also need to recognize what they owe in return. Just like you have a right to free speech but a responsibility not to spread lies or incite violence; having access to financial services and credit comes with a responsibility to meet your financial obligations and pay back your loans. 

Basic vs. elective financial services

In moving from the theoretical to the practical aspect of this; a few details will need to be sorted out. Enforcing financial inclusion as a basic right isn’t as simple as just giving everyone access to every financial service/product ever created. Obviously, we’d have to determine what’s essential for a meaningful life without overdoing it.

This can be a slippery slope. But at the minimum, people should have the basics covered; they should be able to open and operate bank accounts without restriction; have access to basic savings products; be assured of privacy where their transactions are concerned, and have access to insurance to protect them in the face of unforeseen challenges that affect their lives or livelihoods. We can then consider everything else as elective services that can be reserved for those interested or those considered to be eligible.

I should also explicitly state that credit is a must .. duh. People should have access to credit with a reasonable debt-to-income ratio (DTI) where only about 35% of their income goes to servicing their debts so it doesn’t overstretch their finances. There has to be a line between throwing people a lifeline when they’re drowning and throwing them an anchor. 

Adopting these rights means that people should be able to trust the financial institutions and service providers that deliver these solutions to keep their money safe. These institutions need to have assets to guarantee that customers are protected and the regulators have to ensure that no bad guys or fraudsters are there to cart away with their savings.

I’m not clairvoyant but trust me when I say if we can crack this, life will become so much easier for everyone.

Vanity metrics are deadly but a slow poison

About a year ago, my loan management SaaS company, Lendsqr, partnered with one of the most recognized tech media startups in Africa. We experimented with activations and a whole lot of other stuff and spent thousands of dollars to push the Lendsqr brand out there. The team was pretty excited about the partnership and we caught a lot of eyeballs. 

But you know what? What!

Despite all the attention we got, it translated to absolutely nothing tangible for the business. Zero. Zilch. And we only found out because we had put a system in place to track our inbound from all the activities.

This incident, amongst others, got me thinking deeper about some of the marketing efforts we’ve put in over the past couple of years at Lendsqr and their impact, and I realized just how dangerous vanity metrics can be. During those years, working with my technical assistant and marketing team, we designed different campaigns to drive traffic and sign ups, etc. and tried our hand at various marketing platforms. 

Here’s the jarring thing; when dealing with these marketing platforms where we splash a boat load of cash to get noticed, they’d only ever report metrics like views, clicks, downloads, etc. Vanity. And whenever I chatted with my customers and their marketing teams, it was always the same story – hyping vanity metrics like they’re the best thing since the internet. They’d say things like “This was successful. There are x thousand clicks” But for me, I’d always roll my eyes and think “What the h*ll are you talking about? Yes, people clicked and saw our stuff but what use was this to the bottom line?”

If your marketing isn’t doing this, stop, it’s a waste

When it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of marketing efforts, I believe it’s crucial to look beyond surface performance and focus on what defines success for your business. It’s also important that whatever you are doing for marketing is worth the money spent. At a time when everyone is watching cost like weight watchers, ensuring your money provides a real return is the real deal.

I understand the temptation to boast about these surface level metrics; sometimes, I love to talk about the number of lenders we have at Lendsqr and the number of customers (borrowers) we have by proxy. But the truth is these things are like barometers; they’re not the real thing, simply tools meant to indicate something else.

What really counts are the tangible outcomes. Specific to my business, that’ll be things like how many people are actually taking out loans, how many of them pay back and ultimately, how much profit is being generated for our lenders and us? These are the real indicators of the health and sustainability of what we do. Anything else falls apart under scrutiny.

It’s easy for anyone to get caught up in the kumbaya of measuring some feel-good metrics

But if you don’t know what’s most important to your core objectives and then work backwards from there, any other thing you’re doing is a waste of time and resources.

For us at Lendsqr, the things that are important are the number of loans booked by customers, our ability to facilitate recovery and the overall profitability of our lenders. Everything else pales in comparison. So even if I bring out a babalawo (dark magic practitioner) to do his stuff and help me achieve these core numbers in a sustainable manner, then it’s more important than if the whole world is reading about me raising a gazillion in TechCrunch when I’m not able to achieve the important things. 

Do this to beat the vanity trap

Given how easy it is to get swept by vanity metrics, how do you avoid that for your business? Well, it’s all about setting the right priorities from the jump (or doing a reset if you’ve already lost your way). Whether you’re a founder, stakeholder, or investor; you MUST figure out what truly matters for your business to survive and eventually thrive. 

Start by identifying those core metrics that really determine sustainable success. Maybe it’s profitability or the journey towards profitability. Break that down further into details like unit economics. How much are you making now, and how much could you make if you run your business as well as you possibly can?

Once you’ve gotten these details sorted then you can get down to it and take a look at what you need to do to achieve these vital metrics.You might even find that the path to achieving these is surprisingly simple. This assessment will make you face the reality; whether you’re on the right track or not.

So this means that as a founder, leader, or investor, it’s your responsibility to sit down with your team and guide them to distill the tangible results from the hype and noise. Ask the tough questions – “it’s okay that this content is trending and gathering views on social media but how does it translate to *insert your core metric here*?”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that those who quote these vanity metrics are bad people who are out to deceive you. Not at all. They’re just operating based on what they know. It’s up to us as leaders to reorient them and make it clear that if whatever they’re doing doesn’t translate to real value, it’s a distraction.

So, the next time your marketing team comes to you with a proposal, challenge them to connect the dots. For instance, “if we invest in this video and rack up a million views, what does it really get us? How many new customers can we expect to sign up, and what’s their long-term value to the business?” That’s how you determine the success of your efforts. But if you don’t have these numbers, then it’s a waste.

Let’s find balance: Intangible results matter too

Before even my own marketing team comes for me, of course, I recognize that not all marketing efforts are about immediate addition to the bottom line. Sometimes, we’re aiming for those intangible wins like brand recognition and top of mind awareness which are also important and contribute to the groundwork for future success.

Think about Coca-Cola or Apple. We all know that these names mean something and add substance to anything they’re affiliated with right? It’s clear it’s not just about the products; brands like these have proven that building brand trust and a good reputation matter too. 

So, we can also say, “Let’s grow our brand equity,” because sometimes, that also paves the way to real value. Not every marketing effort will translate to Naira and kobo or Dollars and cents. Having a strong brand means people trust you, they’re willing to pay more for your stuff, and they’re more likely to buy from you in the first place. This is an intangible asset you can leverage to improve your earning margins significantly and boost your core business results down the line.

Additionally, beyond external projection of your brand; what goes on internally matters. How are your employees performing? Sure, a lot of people want to build a happy workplace. This is good. But here’s the thing: if your business is dying, no amount of employee happiness will save it.

You have to stay focused and ensure that your measure of employee happiness or the employee experience in your company is assessed within the context of sustainability. What benefit is it to you to have happy staff and a dead business? It’s utterly useless. But obviously, if you also have unhappy staff and you’re only fixated on numbers and driving results, your business will die. 

It’s all about finding balance. Happy staff produce good business and good business makes staff happy. Don’t break that cycle. 

Find what’s right for you, today and every day after that

As a company, you’ve got to know which metrics really matter, and that can change from time to time. The metrics that are important this year, may not be important next year.

Maybe in the early stages of your startup, you’re all about survival then growth before paying attention to profitability. Not because profitability is wrong but because you know that survival and growth are crucial to charting the course to profitability. 

For a B2C company, you may have to work a lot on your brand equity and find a good way to measure it, because you know that down the line, brand equity will translate to easier ways to sell and better margins.

Whatever the case may be, you’ve got to be able to call b*llsh*t on the fakes and focus on what truly drives success.

Lastly, do views, clicks, downloads have their benefits? I really can’t say but what I will say is that they have to lead somewhere meaningful. If a marketing agency tells you to spend $100,000, they better have an answer for what’s in it for the business, beyond the feel-good stuff, because if it doesn’t add up, you might as well just set that pile of cash on fire.

Gen Zs are lazy. Millennials are even lazier. I can’t stick with either of them

It’s hard to work with Gen Z and millennials because they can hardly get themselves to do anything. Who would want to work with such people? Definitely not me!

These guys don’t care about work. They are so entitled and they just want everything to come easy without having to put in the work. The only thing they talk about is work-life balance and bastardized  “Mental Health”, using it as an excuse to get out of doing anything worth the while. 

They have simply put those with real mental health issues at risk.

As a matter of fact, these are the worst people you could ever work with. 

This sounds familiar to you doesn’t it? 

But how true is this?

The story of how Gen Zs and Millennials are so lazy and entitled and don’t want to do anything has become so popular that everyone believes it as the gospel truth. As a matter of fact, if you look up the text “Gen Zs are lazy” you’re sure to find a gazillion people who believe this.

But is this actually true? 

It’s not! 

At least, not from my perspective.

Let’s start with this. I’m a 46 years old Gen X dinosaur and I’ve lived and worked with my generation and the generations before mine. My mother was a boomer. My uncles and some of my elder relatives are boomers (the ones that haven’t kicked the bucket yet). Most of my friends are Gen X.

I’ve had an incredible fortune and sometimes, misfortune, of working with Gen X, millennial, and Gen Z humans and I can comfortably tell you that practically everything you read online including the early part of this article is completely false.

In my life, some of the best people I’ve ever worked with and currently work with are young people. 

Let’s talk about Lendsqr. The average Lendian is 25 years old (yes, I run a professional kindergarten) The oldest person as of the time I’m writing this article is just 30 years old and I can say for a fact that these are the most hardworking people I’ve ever met in my life. 

I remember when we had a fraud case (or why do you think I’m strident about fraud?). Lendians came to my house at 2am and we battled the fraudsters, won, and got some of our money back.

These young people take so much initiative, and with extreme sense of ownership. They sometimes cry, not because someone is hurting them but because they care so much about their products or whatever they are working on. This is the power of commitment. This is the power of ownership. 

These young humans I’ve worked with have so many things in common: They are smart, they’re extremely hardworking, they’re not entitled, they go the extra mile and the list goes on and on.

When I counter some of my friends who believe that Gen Zs are lazy, we dive deeper into the fact that refutes these misconceptions, everyone starts seeing that the notion of lazy young people is an absolute balderdash.

Let’s even take a step back and look at the world we live in. Some of the biggest organizations and the biggest value creation that we’ve seen have come from these so called ‘lazy’ millennials and Gen Zs.

Zukerberg founded Facebook when he was 19 years old; with his diapers sagging behind him The Collision brothers were kids when they started Stripe, and they’ve built an incredible and valuable company. Coming to Africa, PiggyVest was built by young people who crawled out of the cribs to get it up and running.

All over the world, young people do amazing stuff.

The problem is that Social Media, just like I’ve done right now, has so influenced our thoughts with clickbaits; the internet traffic runs on clickbaits of bad news.

It’s all false. Gen Zs are  probably the best generation and the most hardworking I’ve seen so far. 

Now let’s talk about the so-called humans who ain’t lazy. I’ve had the fortune of a fast career in banking and sometimes people tell me that “you guys were lucky then, everyone was fast” but that too is a lie. My generation and the ones before mine had tons of very lazy people as well.

The truth is people have always been lazy. I have cousins and uncles that are lazy (Emmanuel, I’m not talking about you). I have family friends that are lazy. At the same time I knew people that were hardworking who did incredible things. I know a guy that’s probably 3 months older than me, and at the time when I thought I was good, that guy was god! 🙇🏿‍♀️ 

Every generation has hardworking and lazy people. However, Social Media has helped shine the “laziness” spotlight on the current generation and amplify click baits to prove this point.

Today, you have people who go on TikTok and talk about the easy life. What people don’t know is that they spend so much time and effort to even create the content, in a very hardworking manner. You look at the Kardashians and you think they are lazy people. Just try to go to social media and create videos. Then you’ll see that it’s not so easy. 

For example, we’re currently creating videos in Lendsqr for an initiative., which has been dragging for months and we haven’t gotten it right. Yet, you have people consistently putting out amazing video content online. And I’m scratching my head and thinking, “How do these low life millennials do it on TikTok?” I honestly respect them. These guys are hardworking.

To the dead ass old guys like me, trust these guys, they’re the best people you can have in your team. The older guys are getting tired. They already have gray hair and they have a few more years before they die off.

It will be the worst thing you’ll do for your business if you don’t recognize the value and the power and the ingenuity of these young people.

If after reading this, you still think millennials are lazy, then there’s only one thing that is sure, you are mentally lazy.

It’s time for Africa to dominate the BPO market

A couple of decades ago, India was an economic backwater and China was pretty messed up too but their present economic realities are miles ahead of that now. China was lucky to start manufacturing early while India took a different route and became the leader for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centers

BPO is the practice of outsourcing aspects of a business’ functions to a third-party provider, usually to reduce costs and allow the business to focus solely on core business activities. BPO for customer support call centers is one of the most popular BPO services.

India, with its large population and relatively cheap labor, saw an opportunity and went on to become the backoffice for everyone. They didn’t have to manufacture anything; they just created tons of customer service agent jobs and trained people to speak passable English and find their way around the different back office software for their BPO clients.

If India could do it then, why can’t African countries do it now?

Many African countries, like India, have abundance of talent and lower labor costs. So, we have to ask; why isn’t the same happening in Africa?

You don’t need to be a graduate or even attend a polytechnic to excel in customer service. I recognize that these jobs are often undervalued and considered to be lowly and at the bottom of the economic pyramid. But if the average person in Africa today earns even just $150/month, they’d live like kings.

This opportunity exists, so why aren’t we seizing it?

Even though much of the continent still struggles with challenges like unreliable electricity and limited internet access, somehow, people have found ways to manage these issues with inverters, solar power, generators, and basic internet connections. 

We’ve got companies like iSON BPO and Outcess doing great things in Nigeria and supporting big companies like MTN. What stops more African-based BPO providers from springing up and even extending their services to foreign companies?

Ultimately, it boils down to a few things.

Nigeria as a case: key barriers keeping African BPOs out of foreign markets 

I’ll use Nigeria as a case study for the challenges barring African providers from serving the global market. The reason Nigerians (and Africans) struggle to enter foreign markets effectively can be attributed to several key factors:


There’s a pervasive issue with the quality of products and services in Nigeria. We often tolerate mediocrity and are always ready with excuses when things aren’t done well. Let’s compare the responsiveness and quality of assistance from a Nigerian company to that of a foreign company like Apple, for instance. Try this: send an email to a Nigerian company and raise a complaint about using their product or service, then send a similar email to Apple. 

It’ll be quite interesting to hear about your experience if you do this. But I can also tell you what’ll most likely happen. While Apple may not always respond promptly, the quality of their responses, compared to what you might get from a Nigerian company,  is usually exceptional. 

This discrepancy calls attention to the fact that in Africa, until we get to the point where people are well trained and accept that we can all do so much better, we’ll never be able to tap into the opportunities that exist even in our backyard. 

Not all companies are bad with quality; I’ll forever rep Cobranet for the customer service. In fact, they are a little bit too intense and personal but I can count on them come rain or shine.

P.S. Don’t try this experiment with Google, they’re notorious for their bad customer service; especially in the ads department. But when it comes to Google Workspace, customer support is surprisingly great.


Reliability is essential in building trust and credibility, and without it, businesses will struggle to gain the confidence of their clients or partners. Unfortunately, the average Nigerian worker is entitled, extremely unreliable, isn’t principled and lacks effective communication skills. 

With a reputation like this, how can we expect people to entrust us with what’s important to them?


As a BPO provider, businesses will have to give you access to their back office, and for financial services for instance, that means being able to see customers’ balances and confidential information. Establishing trust is crucial, particularly when dealing with sensitive information like this. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s reputation for being the hub of fraudulent activities and the infamous “419” central, often undermines trust in Nigerian businesses. 

In reality, most major frauds aren’t perpetrated by Nigerians but when it comes to Nigeria, it’s the bad stories that are pushed aggressively, so the negative perception persists. To overcome this, we need to work on repairing our image by sharing more positive stories, showing that we hold wrongdoers accountable and that we’re actively fighting fraud. 

Addressing these issues is vital for Nigerian businesses to gain traction in foreign markets and build sustainable relationships based on trust, reliability, and quality.

Africa as the next BPO capital of the world – it’s a good look

If we can effectively address these challenges, Nigeria could potentially become the next global hub for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). We have 100 million young adults ready to work. Let’s provide them with proper training, cheap laptops, and internet access and begin to utilize this potential.

Contrary to the common belief, not all BPO activities require employees to communicate verbally and attempt (and usually fail woefully) to speak with fake foreign accents. Often, people just need to simply be able to read, write and answer questions.

Nigeria has tons of talented content writers. I’ve personally worked with a lot of great writers in Nigeria and I can tell you that they can rule the world. Look at our artists too who are already at the Grammys, selling out shows abroad and making waves globally. We have the capacity to own content creation, video creation, etc. and have foreign businesses outsource even their creative processes to us, if we can get our act together.

If we can overcome these obstacles, Africa can dominate the global market. Countries like Ghana and Nigeria, operating on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), are ideally positioned to provide services to European clients. Similarly, French-speaking countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Togo, as well as Portuguese-speaking countries like Angola and Mozambique, have the potential to cater to their respective language markets.

We can very easily take business from India who seems ready to drop this business anyway, so we don’t need to feel bad about it. With India growing out of BPO, we’ll start at the bottom. Africans will eat, we’ll put food on our tables, FX will come in and we’ll be proud of ourselves. And as we move up the value chain, other people can take it up from there. 

And we already have what we need.

While constant electricity remains a challenge in Nigeria, our neighboring countries have good electricity. Additionally, significant investments in fiber optic infrastructure, which have seen the MainOne, Glo 1  and Glo 2, and the West African Cable System (WACS) cables laid, have improved internet connectivity and lowered internet access prices over the last six years. 

Although laptops and PCs may still be relatively expensive, investing in these tools is essential for the work ahead and there are cheaper Chinese alternatives available, it doesn’t always have to be Dell or HP.

By addressing these issues and leveraging our existing resources and other enablers such as the provision of credit, Nigeria and Africa as a whole, can seize the opportunity to become a major player in the global BPO industry, leading to economic growth and prosperity for the continent as a whole.

The truth is, we already have an undue advantage with our abysmally poor currencies which makes our services cheaper and better.

It’s time to get in the game. We’ve waited too long already.

To build or to fix: the tech conundrum of every leader

It’s almost a rite of passage for tech companies to have some software or service you developed years ago that no longer serves your needs and is perhaps already on the verge of obsolescence. 

The software was probably the result of prioritizing early deployment above all else, accumulating what’s known as technical debt; tons of it –  missed opportunities for optimization, opportunities to scale that you never took advantage of, design options that you overlooked, edge cases that were never factored in, etc. The list goes on.

What then happens as time goes on, is that you start trying to close the gaps and compensate for this technical debt. Usually, this means adding more features and fixing existing bugs. However, this approach doesn’t always yield the desired results and can even trigger unforeseen issues elsewhere in the system. 

This stage can be quite frustrating and will most likely push you to the point where you stew in your disappointment and think to yourself “we have to build a new one” because you’re so convinced what you have is no longer good enough. But there’s always someone else who isn’t ready to let go of the tears and blood you put into the existing version, who says “let’s fix what we have instead”. 

This battle of build or fix usually becomes tenuous when the company has a new product or features to launch. Or want to expand into a new territory. Or may be getting to the limits of tech infrastructure. 

So, what’s the right thing to do?  

And therein lies the conundrum. 

Build or fix? Here’s what my startup did

I’m hardly ever on the fence about anything but this is one of the few things I’d say I’m neither here nor there. I’ll share a bit more about my experience with what I will dramatically refer to from this point onward as ‘the conundrum’. 

At my startup, Lendsqr, we grappled with the conundrum first hand. Our admin console started out on Angular 8. Anyone familiar with the framework knows how ancient this is. Naturally, we got tired of feeling frozen in time and decided to upgrade to make it better. We searched all over Nigeria, our homebase, but couldn’t find decent Angular engineers to join us.  Despite attempts to fix the existing issues in-house, we couldn’t get the console to the standard we wanted. 

We tried to fix it.

After trying our best to patch things and an exhaustive search for talent for over a year, which had proven futile, we opted to switch to React and it was easier to build. 

Then we chose to build. 

And after 9 months, we had phase 1 ready and just as it was meant to go live … I scrapped it. As you can imagine, I was bombarded with all the ‘WHY?!’ questions.

Some were probably saying “our boss has gone mad again” 

My reason was simple – at least to me. When I compared all the features we had on the old version of our admin console with the first phase of the new version, it was clear that the new one – which would have also come with its own bugs and issues – would probably never catch up with the functionalities of the old console which is being improved and fixed on a daily basis. As disappointing as it was, we canceled the project. 

And we chose to fix … again.

However, this decision didn’t last for long because our perseverance eventually paid off when we finally took the bulls by the horn and conquered. With renewed focus, 2 new committed engineers and a product designer, the first thing we did was to upgrade from Angular 8 to 16, revamp the design, and enhance backend functionality, all under 7 weeks. We then deployed everything to pilot phase and nothing broke. I was super impressed.

We ran the pilot phase for another month before we launched to all customers. We’re still fixing bugs here and there and adding new features. 

But in the end, we had to build instead of fix. 

Our experience didn’t end there, however. This happened again when we wanted to convert our core services from JavaScript to TypeScript. Our first experiment was with our Utilities microservice; a slow changing powerhouse. It was quickly done but then the devil whispered into my ears to do a massive conversion of the core Lendsqr service. It was completed in six weeks but for a very fast changing platform, it was impossible to do one massive swing and resolve all the code conflicts from the changes. 

I learnt another lesson the hard way. Software is a sassy creature that doesn’t embrace all types of change and will most likely throw a fit in response.

Here’s how to decide what to do when the conundrum strikes

When Lendsqr was faced with the conundrum, we tried our hand at both approaches at different times and learnt some crucial lessons along the way. Although we eventually decided to build a new platform, it wasn’t because we felt like building, it was because we had to build.

This is an important decision in the lifecycle of any tech company and I’ll share some pointers based on my own experience on when you should consider building or when you should fix what you have instead. 

When should you fix?

When dealing with a large continuously evolving application that’s core to your business like your back-office, rewriting is always difficult and you may never catch up with what you already have.

In instances like these, it’s usually better to think deeply about how you want to proceed and forget about the emotions and excitement that come with building new things. Choose to make what you have better because building from the ground up can be a real pain and the coverage required to rebuild and test can be quite crazy.

The Cost Analysis Paradox

Delving deeper into the conundrum, one critical aspect that often goes underexamined is the cost analysis of building versus fixing. On the surface, the idea of fixing existing software appears cost-effective. However, this perception doesn’t always hold up under scrutiny.

The costs associated with patching up old systems, especially in terms of time and lost opportunities, can accumulate, sometimes surpassing the expenses of developing new software. Conversely, building anew comes with its own set of financial and operational risks.

The paradox lies in the fact that there’s no straightforward formula to calculate these costs accurately. As leaders, we need to adopt a forward-thinking approach, considering not only the immediate but also the long-term financial implications of their decision.

When should you rebuild instead?

It makes more sense to choose to rebuild if the application is static with minimal changes and you can’t layer new features e.g. a payment engine. 

But if you must rebuild a complex platform, I strongly recommend executing incremental fixes rather than one big revamp, to help manage the migration better. There’s an approach that people use, called the strangler fig pattern where you start replacing components bit by bit in such a way that the existing application continues until it has become a new creature, and you can shut down the old one with minimal drama.


There’s no one-size-fits-all method of addressing the conundrum but based on my own experience doing this, these are some of the ways that allow you to reduce your engineering risk and stay alive as you evolve.