Of all the challenges that certified minority and woman owned businesses face, one of the most consistent and troubling is gaining access to opportunities that are appropriate for their capacity and expertise. But now a recently developed smartphone app is helping MWBEs in New York to do just that. It’s called MWBE Connect NY, and it’s available for Android and iPhone for just $9.99 a month or $99 a year.
The app was developed by Capalino & Company, a New York based lobbying firm, in conjunction with Celeritas Digital Solutions, a software developer and MWBE. Using publicly available data from open RFPs, the app uses an algorithm to pair contractors with opportunities that are match their skills.
“It takes MWBEs too long to find contracts, and oftentimes they’re finding contracts that don’t actually match with what they want to be doing,” said former associate vice president at Capalino and Company Safeena Mecklai in an interview last year with Crain’s. “The idea was to find a way to use open data to solve that problem,” she said. The app aggregates data from all open RFPs in New York, including city, state and private proposals.
How MWBE Connect NY Works
The MWBE Connect NY app is user friendly and straightforward. After downloading the app to your smartphone, you start by creating a username and password. After accepting the terms (which include a three-month free trial), you go on to create an account by entering your name, address and phone number. Next, you create a business profile, and you’re good to go.
The app offers a number of features, including a Search function that lets you browse RFPs that match the location, capabilities and desired contract value entered in your profile. When you find an opportunity you want to investigate, you just select the RFP and the app serves up a summary of the project, including mandatory meetings, site visits and submission deadlines. There’s even an option to email the procurement officer for the project directly from the app.
In addition to matching your firm with appropriate RFPs, MWBE Connect NY lets you chat with the Capalino & Company MWBE team to get advice on preparing responses to bid solicitations free of charge. Additionally, it sends out updates on new MWBE legislation and events and alerts you when important deadlines approach. There’s even a section for learning more about the MWBE certification process and applicable laws.
According to the 2016 Disparity Study from Empire State Development, slightly over 50 percent of both prime contractors and subcontractors in New York State are MWBEs — over 5,000 of them in the City of New York alone. And New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set the aggressive goal of awarding 30 percent of the state’s contracts to MWBEs by 2021 — that’s about $4.2 billion slated to go to MWBEs within the next three years.
Yet reaching the utilization goal has proven difficult for both state and local agencies. According to the most recent report from the New York City Comptroller’s Office, only $1 billion of the city’s $21 billion in contracts were awarded to MWBEs in FY 2017. Similar disparities in MWBE utilization exist in New York State.
Yet, while this data is discouraging, it means that both state and city agencies are working harder than ever to provide opportunities to MWBEs. It’s our hope that the MWBE Connect NY app will help facilitate greater utilization as well.
About the Carmoon Group
The Carmoon Group Ltd. is an insurance broker headquartered in Hicksville, New York. We have over 20 years experience in providing insurance programs, risk management and access to capital to businesses in New York and across the United States, and we have particular expertise in the areas of emerging businesses and MWBEs. Why not give us a call today to set up a free consultation to discuss your needs? Or if you prefer, just reach out online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.