Gladys Maduekwe is the CEO/ Co-founder Base, Nigeria’s first on-demand booking platform that aimed to help young professionals make the most of their productive hours by providing a safe and convenient working environment for their use.
Gladys is a visionary tech founder and CEO who is passionate about making a positive impact on society by using technology to improve the quality of people’s lives. Gladys’ career has revolved around social impact business in the renewable energy and health spaces, and she thought of starting a business to enable her to help more people. In 2022, Gladys co-founded Base. She believes that a lot of people are not productive enough because of long commutes to work, distractions from family members, and poor power and internet supplies, and her goal is to make safe and convenient co-working spaces more accessible and affordable to people who need them.
In this Interview with MSME Africa, she shares about her Entrepreneurship journey.
Can we meet you?
My name is Gladys Maduekwe, and I am the CEO/Co-Founder of Base – Nigeria’s first on-demand booking platform for co-working spaces, paid per minute. I also advocate for people living with disabilities through my platform AIDIO (Advocating for Inclusion and Diversity in Organizations) as I believe that irrespective of being able-bodied or having a disability, everyone should have the freedom to choose between being a career professional or an entrepreneur.
What inspired your entrepreneurial journey
I want to improve the quality of life of young professionals. As a young professional myself, I have had to deal with a lot of struggles managing my productivity, and that was the reason I started Base—to enable young professionals to work safely and conveniently in order to be their most productive selves.
Kindly share a high moment for you as an entrepreneur
One of the high moments for me as an entrepreneur was when I found out that I was one of the founders to reach the top 5 at the Zenith Bank Pitch Competition out of over 500 applicants. Having the opportunity to speak to over 2000 attendees about my product felt very surreal because it helped bring awareness to my business.
How have you been coping with the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in your space?
It’s a lot being a female entrepreneur in the tech space. You are constantly dealing with the fear of how women do not have equal funding opportunities and the other negative statistics, but something that has helped me cope is the confidence that I have in my product and the burning desire to constantly improve the lives of people. That desire, irrespective of the challenges that I face, keeps me going even when I don’t feel like it.
The focus of this year’s International Women’s Day is to get the world talking about ‘Why equal opportunities aren’t enough.” What do you have to contribute to this?
I believe that equal opportunities are not enough because, much more than equal opportunities, mindsets need to change for equal opportunities to be relevant. For instance, getting a job as a woman doesn’t mean that you would be treated/paid the same as a man in that same field. Did you get the opportunity? Yes. Did the mindset of the people change? No. So, you will have the job but still, deal with a lot of problems as a result of your negative mindset. Conversations to end these negative mindsets are already being carried out, and with my organization, I will intensify those conversations and do much more than talk about the negative mindsets; I will implement steps to eradicate them.
What do you hope to see improve in the MSME ecosystem in the next 5 years in Nigeria?
I would like to see more structure in the MSME ecosystem, I think a lot of MSME business owners do not see the need to put in proper structure for their “small” businesses, and this lack of structure has seen a lot of businesses not move from one generation to the next, and I would like that to change.
Your final words to everyone reading this and hoping to start something like this.
Go for it, but don’t expect the easiest ride. Nothing comes easy, not even having your own business; you need to put in the work and you will surely be rewarded for it.