Qwally, developers of a software platform that helps cities support small businesses, announces the launch of its platform with the City of Wichita, Kansas, Workwith.Wichita.gov.
The City of Wichita will use Qwally’s platform to help local entrepreneurs as they start and grow their businesses, connect them with resources in the community, and provide guidance to small businesses seeking City contract opportunities.
“Qwally, through its partnership with the City of Wichita, provides a new and innovative platform to local small businesses looking to expand into government contracting and access area resource partners,” said Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson. “This platform expands on the City’s current efforts to engage emerging and disadvantaged businesses and reduce red tape to make our community and city vendor base more inclusive.”
The Workwith site reduces common procurement challenges faced by new businesses. The site focuses on providing useful, plain-language content that explains how to navigate the City’s procurement process. The platform also streamlines the City’s Emerging Business Enterprise (EBE) Certification program, a small business preference program the City introduced in 2005. Small businesses can now apply for EBE Certification in just a few minutes, eliminating time-consuming paper applications. Workwith.Wichita.gov can be accessed at any time through a computer or mobile device and uses a secure login system that eliminates the need for users to remember a password.
For City staff, the Qwally platform provides a centralized view of their small business purchasing program. City users can monitor and support small businesses as they pursue City contract opportunities. City staff can also review and approve applications, message with applicants, and search for EBE-certified vendors by location and industry. The platform also automates time-intensive tasks like distributing certification renewal notices.
The Qwally platform will make it easier for businesses to connect with not only City Hall, but also with resources and organizations in the Wichita area that provide support and services to small businesses. “This is a big step forward in facilitating information for businesses in the city of Wichita,” said Magda Burciaga, Executive Director, Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
This partnership builds on Wichita’s broader goal to create a friendly and inclusive environment for small businesses and emerging vendors. The City is hopeful this launch will allow more businesses to participate in City contracts and access the benefits of EBE Certification.
Qwally CEO Chris Offensend emphasized the ways in which the platform helps build stronger connections between cities and the small businesses in their communities.
“Wichita, like many cities across the country, has an extensive ecosystem of organizations that support small businesses. Our platform helps cities coordinate their local ecosystem so that small businesses can more easily get the help they need, and ecosystem organizations can more effectively and comprehensively provide it.”
Qwally and Wichita connected through the City Innovation Ecosystem program, a collaboration between CivStart, the Kauffman Foundation, and the National League of Cities. The program helps cities support inclusive economic growth through strategies like inclusive procurement and entrepreneurship. This is Qwally’s second project through the City Innovation Ecosystem program, coming closely on the heels of a successful launch with the City of Manor, Texas.
Wichita joins a growing number of cities using the Qwally platform. During the technology selection process, Wichita was particularly impressed with Qwally’s successful track record in inclusive procurement and small business support programs. Qwally’s partnership with the City of Mobile, Alabama helped to nearly double the number of contracts going to women- and minority-owned firms in the space of just one year.