Listen to the audio version
Innovation is crucial for the development of any company. Traditional methods may be effective, but to thrive in a constantly evolving industry, one must adapt to new developments. Few businesses have successfully recognized the importance of innovation in their business and acted decisively to achieve various milestones. One such avid leader is the Founder and CEO of Trade Lenda, Adeshina Adewumi. Trade Lenda is a financial services company that assists micro, small, and informal retailers with access to financing for business needs. Adeshina emphasizes that one of its innovative ideas is deeply rooted in its credit scoring framework, which allows him to factor in multiples other than the financial requirements that most credit companies use in evaluating and underwriting credit requests from its users.” This has stood us out among others so far,” says Adeshina.
As a founder and CEO, his responsibilities include attracting the right people and resources to drive the vision of the company daily. He states that the happiest part of his job is seeing the company deliver value to every stakeholder on a daily basis. He attempts to ensure that his customers and users are supported and strives to create a safe environment for employees to work in that helps them achieve their own goals while contributing to the organizational goal and delivering dividends of growth to investors and other partners.
A determinant personality
At the young age of seven, Adeshina was introduced to the world of business. His destiny presented this opportunity as a necessity to support his mother in her wholesale business with a massive retail network across Rivers State, Nigeria. By the age of 11, he was enrolled in the Nigerian Military School in Zaria, where he acquired qualities like leadership, discipline, tenacity, resilience, and service for the greater good. He has made these characteristics a part of his personal and professional culture.
He mentions, “For every action I take, I ask myself what value it is adding to me, my people, and the wider community.” This ideology has greatly shaped his perception of life and how one can differentiate between surviving, living, and understanding the true meaning of life. He feels grateful to lead a fast-growing team committed to tackling global economic challenges like financial inclusion across emerging markets. Trade Lenda is indeed out on a mission to boost trade and commerce for businesses while championing the financial inclusion train.
Adeshina holds academic knowledge in accounting. He completed his bachelor’s in accounting with distinction and initiated his career in the financial sector. He was opportune to champion innovation while learning operations, strategy, and business development within Stanbic IBTC Holdings (the Bank and Wealth Management subsidiaries) early on in his career journey.
While running One Kiosk in the year 2019, Adeshina and his team observed the soar in users’ adoption of e-commerce channels due to the pandemic. Supporting over 14,000 MSMEs at the time and seeing gross merchandise value (GMV) increase from less than $100,000 monthly to more than $1 million demonstrated the true potential of essential commodities and goods via e-commerce. However, as customer orders increased, these MSMEs struggled to keep up with the rising and corresponding growth. He reminisces, thinking, “Could this be that MSMEs do not want to grow as fast as opportunities avail them?” A closer look and increased engagement led to the realization that most businesses were indeed unable to access credit to grow, even when they showed the capacity or had invoices to make some supplies that could increase their revenue potential. By 2021, he and his team decided to pool their resources and form a team with experience spanning the supply chain, retail, credit, and technology to make a difference. “We have never looked back since then,” he gleams.
Moreover, he mentions that the credit space is huge in Africa and across the emerging market, with significant growth potential. “Thus, seeing the everyday impact and wins for the average businesses that we support is quite significant and what I call success,” he says. It, however, does not end there. Its technology has offered these MSMEs the opportunity to live a better life, contribute meaningfully towards economic growth, and go further to create more jobs for the betterment of society. All of this, while being sustainable with non-performing loans still under 3%, is highly commendable when compared to other players within the credit offering space in Nigeria. The company’s core strength is across credit and technology. It has leveraged this to build a technology that is scaling to its full potential. In line with its mission to drive financial inclusion, Adeshina has gone a step further to underlay various embedded value services to support MSMEs, from microsavings to insurance and pensions, to plan, secure, and prepare for the future and the things they admire.
At Trade Lenda, Adeshina has built a culture of family, loyalty, service, and excellence. This allows everyone to feel valued and appreciated. It also drives innovation and distinctive efforts as well as service to its customers and all the stakeholders. He claims to be a strong believer in leadership by example and, as such, tries to maintain an open-door policy that allows members of the team to question any area they feel needs to be changed to get positive results for the team. “Every member is empowered to produce results,” he says.
At Trade Lenda, Adeshina and his team believe in results, and as such, it’s a blend of both structured and unstructured paths to getting results. Every organization must have an unstructured path that allows for continuous creativity and innovation. For every successful innovation, processes and structures would then be put in place to ensure continuity and the desired outcome. “Thus, I am a supporter of a blend of individual heroics and team processes at various times,” he highlights.
Adeshina focuses on two words: “learn” and ‘listen’. He firmly believes that listening and learning are essential elements for every individual aspiring to prevail in the business world. He adds that every position and platform is another opportunity to learn and re-learn. “The day we stop learning is the day we die,” he asserts. The results that successful leaders produce is obtained from their ability to learn from and listen to those they lead. “You are a leader not because you are the best at doing a specific job, but because it’s perceived that you have the ability to coordinate multiple jobs through people to get the desired outcome. Learn and listen!” he says.
A brief note on Stanbic IBTC
Stanbic IBTC is a member of Standard Bank Group, and that gave Adeshina a global culture and mindset with which to work. It has also produced many alumni leaders in Nigerian tech startups such as Flutterwave, Paystack, and, most recently, Trade Lenda. His work with Proville as the Pioneer Chief Operating Officer under the leadership of Blessing Ayemhere opened his eyes to a new outlook on innovation and everyday challenges. While leading the Proville team, Adeshina and her team were able to match African talents globally with users cutting across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Canada, the United States, and various European countries. This attempt built his confidence to want to do more, so in the year 2019, he founded One Kiosk, which later led to Trade Lenda, where he can support micro, small, and medium enterprises to avoid missed opportunities and scale through timely access to credit while connecting them to various other partners to grow their sales and access to various other financial services. Currently, it has access to over 240,000 MSMEs in Nigeria alone.