Editor’s note: The following is part of Startland News’ ongoing coverage of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Kansas City’s entrepreneur community, as well as how innovation is helping to drive a new normal in the ecosystem. Click here to follow related stories as they develop.
Entrepreneurs are simply more agile than the federal government, said Shekhar Gupta, promoting a new COVID-19 relief website that allows Kansas Citians to give and receive aid rather than waiting on Washington D.C.
“We all know that [in government] things move very slowly. Things that should take hours or days take weeks and months… I think these dire situations are the places where entrepreneurs can lead the way instead of waiting for bureaucracies,” said Gupta, COO of Blockchain Initiatives.
“This is one of those times when you just have to roll up your sleeves and get down to helping others because we’re all in it together,” he added. “It’s not something that’s affecting one category of people or only one type of person. It’s affecting every one of us. We need to hold each other up and that’s how we build a stronger economy. That’s how we build stronger communities and stronger camaraderie.”
Gupta, a Kansas City-based blockchain and smart city entrepreneur, recently developed the KCCOVID 19 site for donating and requesting needed items in the rapidly changing reality, which increasingly is preventing residents from venturing to stores, he said.
While pressure is mounting for local, state and federal officials to reopen the country for business, Kansas City’s Stay at Home order has been extended to at least mid-May, and health experts predict rolling shutdowns could follow the perceived end of the COVID-19 threat if outbreaks surge once again.
“There are a lot of people in our city and nation who simply do not have the means or cannot drive from place to place trying to find any of these basic necessities. It’s my belief that if this lockdown continues until the end of the summer or after that, we’re going to have a major supply chain breakdown,” said Gupta. “It’s just one of those things that we’re just going to have to battle and weather the storm, but this website is just a way to help people weather the storm better.”
Effectively connecting givers and those in need is crucial for establishing safer options for those in older generations or the immune-suppressed that continue to have daily needs, he said, noting the requests remain anonymous on the site.
“We made it very simple — there are prebuilt options like baby formula or groceries and there’s options if there’s something else that you need,” he said. “You just select and put in the quantity and the donor is able to send you a message while your identity remains anonymous.”
Click here to learn more about the KCCOVID 19 site or make a donation.
The third-party site gives an outlet for those too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help, or reach out on personal social media accounts, he added.
“Maybe they’re asking for diapers or baby formula and you know… we don’t feel good about asking for help sometimes. It’s human nature. But the necessity is driving us and with this website maybe we can keep our dignity intact and confidential,” Gupta said.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.