Qwally, a software platform for cities to provide support to small businesses, is modernizing Kansas City, Missouri’s small business support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city’s small business assistance office, KC BizCare, is using the platform to manage the unique challenges facing government and small businesses during the crisis, Nia Richardson, the office’s director said.
“With the unexpected hit of the pandemic, like other businesses and public offices, we had to pivot virtually, so we could be responsive to the needs of our new and existing entrepreneurs and small businesses in KC,” Richardson said.
Before the pandemic, KC BizCare primarily supported entrepreneurs through in-person appointments at their office across from City Hall. Since the pandemic began, and with Qwally’s platform, the office has digitized their processes.
“Imagine having to process all of our requests through a paper form!” said Angelene Grady, one of BizCare’s founding advocates. “We used to sit next to businesses on computers, print out documents, and write requests on a paper form. There’s no way we could have handled our renewal period during the pandemic without this system.”
Using Qwally’s platform, the office can now manage the unprecedented amount of renewal and help requests that flooded in during the onset of the COVID-19 crisis — and that continue today as the city continues its response.
Now, the office can better analyze the impact of the crisis on businesses and help them get access to technical assistance and financial relief.
“When the pandemic hit BizCare had to change our operations,” said Rick Usher, the city’s assistant manager. “Qwally helped us pivot to remote work and quickly developed a survey to learn about our small business community. Qwally’s resilience and attention to our needs has been huge.”
The office is also using Qwally to analyze the impact of COVID-19 on women and minority-owned firms, which have struggled to access loans during the health crisis.
Qwally has worked with Kansas City since 2020 when it participated in City Innovate’s Startup in Residence program. Since then, the partnership has evolved with a five contract that started in June of 2020.
“We are thrilled with our partnership with KC BizCare. We have grown our platform and gained unprecedented feedback from users and the small business community,” Qwally CEO Chris Offensend said. “This partnership highlights the importance of improving ease of use and access for small businesses, particularly at a time when cities are moving to bring more and more services online, and adjusting to remote work.”
On March 18th, Kansas City and Qwally will be presenting their solution as part of the Kansas City Innovate KC demo day. Municipalities and ecosystem builders are encouraged to attend.
Qwally is a user-friendly, cloud-based software platform that provides self-serve tools to help small businesses connect with city programs and navigate complex processes. The company has participated in City Innovate’s Startup in Residence Program, the 2019 MassChallenge Boston accelerator program and is currently part of the CivStart GovTech accelerator.