Continues to Add to Strength of C-Suite
When Dylan and I started Lendable, we spent a lot of time talking about what success would look like and trying to anticipate the tough decisions that one day we would potentially need to make. Key to us was building something that not only had a positive impact, but did it at scale. Also key to us was the recognition that Lendable was not about us, it was a vehicle for financial inclusion, one that we were stewards of but we hoped would one day be much larger than us. The idea of building something big enough that incredibly talented and experienced people would want to be part of it was core to how we thought about success. While it can feed one’s ego to own and control the seed of an idea, it was and continues to be much more exciting for us to be only two of the many folks tending to a garden.
Fast forward 6.5 years. Lendable has moved over $130m; has expanded access to over 1.25m million individuals and MSMEs in Africa, SE Asia, and LatAm; is flirting with profitability; and has 20 employees across Africa, Asia, North America and Europe. We have invested in 19 fintechs and been trusted with the money of over 25 investors (including some of the largest institutional investors in the world). Lendable is no longer an idea, it is a company. And soon it will be a large company.
As the CEO and co-founder of that company, my first and foremost responsibility is to the customers, employees and investors of the company. Over the last eighteen months, Lendable has faced two challenges: 1) scaling with excellence 2) finding the time to strategically plan future growth and innovation. Many of the challenges we face today are no longer existential in nature, they are the challenges of scaling systems, building high functioning teams, and managing information flows. There are people out there who have scaled credit companies while maintaining investment excellence, but I’m not one of them! At the same time, we are in many senses still on the “frontier” and need the capacity to be agile and aggressively pursue emerging opportunities. When we started Lendable, our big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) was to provide 100m people with fair access to financial services. We are 1.25% of the way there, however without a focus on new products, partnerships, and strategies, we won’t get there. So how do we accomplish both imperatives at once?
Over two years ago, we met someone who I instantly connected with on the vision for Lendable and what it would require to build: Chris Wéhbe. Chris’s background is as a wunderkid in the hedgefund world. Not satisfied with being a partner in a $6bn hedgefund in his late twenties, managing 20 investment professionals, and overseeing more than 2bn Eurospersonally, he moved into academia at Oxford. At Oxford, he studied economics, eventually taking his skills into the impact space, successfully turning around an ESG equities business and scaling 4x in eighteen months. Chris joined Lendable over two years ago as our Executive Chairman, helping us build a world class team and processes, and owning everything from macro strategy, to internal finance, to investment team management. Over two years of working with Chris, I not only got to know a brilliant and diligent operator, but someone with unquestionable values and a deep commitment to doing the right thing. We are in many ways the yin to each others’ yang. Now, I’m incredibly proud to announce that Chris will be committing full-time as Lendable’s CEO, while I switch into the role of Executive Chairman and Co-Founder.
You might be asking, what exactly does an Executive Chairman do? Am I going to sit on a beach somewhere? Well, first off, my commitment to the company and amount of time I will be working on it does not change at all. This frees me up to do the aspects of the job I love the most: to be 100% focused on the growth and impact of Lendable. Now that the core business of Lendable works and we have an experienced management team, we need to start seeding new ideas and opportunities. I will shift over to focus on strategy, capital raising, strategic partnerships, new products, enhancing our impact, and governance. At the end of the day, this will allow me to do the things I love and am good at: coming up with, testing, and building out ambitious ideas that can make the world a better place.
I couldn’t be more certain that this is the right decision to take Lendable to the next level: to be the leading provider of credit and financial services to fintech and technology companies in emerging and frontier markets. We believe we have an opportunity to be one of the largest and most impactful financial services firms in the world. It’s not the craziest bet to focus on the geographies where the majority of the world will live and on the fastest growing tech sector within them!
It’s almost hard to convey the pride and surprise I feel that the seed of an idea that Dylan and I nurtured has sprouted, attracting so many incredible gardeners.
Executive Chairman — Lendable