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A Call for Code global finalist from Australia seeks to fight back against COVID-19

Business Buddy is the 1st runner up in the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge and will receive $25K.

The unknown is scary. Whether it’s taking that leap of faith into a new career path, or becoming a parent for the first time — there are more questions than there are answers, and this can be unsettling. When the world was struck by COVID-19, the unknown upended our way of life and served as a conduit for anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. One industry that felt the rippling effects early on from the wake of COVID-19 was the small business sector.

Due to changing governmental regulations and restrictions that continue to evolve due to the storm of the unknown that is COVID-19, small businesses quickly feel the impacts and experience loss of income and are forced to cut staff, reduce hours of operation, or close-up shop entirely. Around the world, small and medium-sized businesses play an essential role in keeping economies afloat, and the need for a solution to fortify this segment of companies is imperative, now more than ever.

Enter Business Buddy, a Call for Code solution providing a one-stop-shop to deliver personalized and responsive COVID-19 updates to small businesses. The Business Buddy team comes from the University of Sydney in Australia, where they report that small and medium-sized businesses make up 90% of the Australian economy. The Business Buddy team did their due diligence to find the root cause to how and why local businesses were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through their research, they found that 30% of businesses had to reduce staff numbers, and 9 out of 10 businesses expressed solvency concerns over the next 4 – 6 months. Through the team’s engagement with local businesses, they discovered that the major pain point for most companies was not the lack of governmental support, but the ineffective communication channels. Business owners have not been able to access the full breadth of support because information on different fiscal relief programs was scattered across multiple websites, making it prone for businesses to miss opportunities to find assistance. It was this pain point that the Business Buddy team decided to combat – and ultimately, build a solution to address it.

Using IBM® Cloud Foundry, IBM Cloudant, and IBM Watson® Assistant, Business Buddy allows small and medium-sized businesses to sign up on their platform, submit information specific to their business, and receive guidance soon after through the ‘My Buddy’ feature. ‘My Buddy’ makes a preliminary determination of their eligibility to various governmental programs, based on their profile, and guides the business to make a more conclusive determination by assessing the business against specific eligibility requirements. If a business is deemed to be eligible for an opportunity, the platform provides easy access to the respective application portal. ‘My Buddy’ also maintains updated information on newly available programs so that businesses can stay apprised of the latest opportunities to leverage at any given time.

The Business Buddy team demonstrates the power of Call for Code, using tech for good and providing a helping hand to communities that are battling the unknown.

Ready to get take action yourself? Get involved and contribute to an open source project of your choice today!