Although minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) continue to receive just a small fraction of New York Citys procurement dollars, (for example, only 4.8 percent of the Citys $15.3 billion worth of goods and services in 2016 went to MWBEs) one company aims to turn that bleak reality around through the creation of MWBE Connect NY, Capalino+Companys new app designed to help MWBEs track and manage opportunities right from their phones.
It’s one-stop shopping for MWBEs, if you will.
Capalino, a government relations and strategic consulting firm, debuted the app on January 20 and according to company Senior Vice President Tunisha Walker, who started the consulting group at the firm two years ago, the on demand app was long overdue.
A lot of our clients were having trouble finding MWBEs to network with for their potential contracts and for the contracts they had already won. They did not understand the process in order to get certified for a lot of the small business contract opportunities that existed. We realized that a lot of the information out there was not up to date; folks did not have a true directory to go to pertaining to MWBEs. Instead, entrepreneurs were searching through many portals to find contracts and other pieces of information. So, we created the app in order for our clients to understand what MWBEs really need and to help MWBEs understand what the regulations for City and State are all about, Walker told TNJ.com in a recent interview.
Safeena Mecklai, associate vice president, says the app saves business owners from wasting time applying for RFPs that may or may not be a good fit. We moved forward with creating the app after an experience we had representing a client who was a woman and a minority. I attended a pre-proposal conference all the way out in Long Island City on her behalf for an RFP that the city had put out only to find out that she was not a good fit. The RFP wanted a company that was specifically rooted in ad design and ad placement, Mecklai shares.
She continues, While there, I met a business owner who too was not a good fit for the RFP, but after talking with him we realized we could work together to leverage his skills in app development and our skills in MWBE consulting to produce a product to save busy business owners from these situations. The goal is to answer the question: How can we help MWBEs get more City contracts?
The app can be found at both The App Store and Google Play Store by searching MWBE Connect NY or simply MWBE and is available for download directly onto a smartphone.
Mecklai says the registration process is a unique one.
When you open the app you are asked to register. Its my favorite process because it teaches you how to use the app. You fill out a profile and tell us where you want to do business, how much your desired contract value is, and what your business can do – in your own words, she notes. We created tags for each of the opportunities that dont look like what the City and State tag their contracts as. So, instead of something being tagged as just construction, well tag it with plumbing, paving, HVAC, etc., so that its really specific. Afterwards, you enter into the app, youll see a Home screen that has events, announcements about MWBE legislation and policy, and you move into the Browse section where our algorithm automatically matches you with contract opportunities that your business is eligible for.
According to Walker, the significance of the app is to streamline the whole process for busy MWBEs who are on the go. Finding contracts is a long process, especially when you have to sit at a desk and search different portals. You can utilize this app when you are taking a 5-minute break while working on a project. For the average engineer or mechanic who is working at a site and taking a lunch break, he or she can literally turn to a mobile phone, open the app, and use our Bid Matching Application to find RFPs that actually match them within minutes, says Walker.
(Go to www . mwbeconnectny . com for more information.)