To open the U.S. Small Business Association's National Small Business Week, set for May 5 to May 11, the federal organization is teaming up with Visa to host the annual Small Business Week Hackathon in Washington, D.C.
From May 3 to May 5, app developers, designers and business owners will work together at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator to build solutions meant to help small businesses deal with major natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes and snowstorms.
When disaster strikes, small businesses are hit particularly hard, as federal assistance and insurance claims can take a long time to come through.
In recent years, natural disasters have become a more frequent occurrence. Last year, more than a dozen major weather and climate disasters caused more than $1 billion in damages, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Two major incidents have already broken that threshold as of April 9, 2019, the federal administration reports.
By the end of the three-day event, officials hope developers will come up with concepts that will help small business owners get back on their feet and stay in business following natural disasters.
The challenges ahead
For this challenge, the SBA tasked participants with focusing on solutions for the numerous hurdles that small businesses face in the immediate and long-term aftermath of a natural disaster. According to event officials, teams will be asked to consider how to help local businesses "restore their revenue streams, finance short- and long-term recovery, establish a robust supply chain, deal with power disruptions, and keep their employees on the payroll." Points will be awarded for creativity and originality. Teams will work around the clock, from 6 p.m. on May 3 until 9:45 a.m. on May 5, to devise their apps.
Tackling the problem of climate change, natural disasters and their impact on a local economy may sound like a lot to take on in just three days, but participants will have some powerful tools at their disposal. Over the course of the event, each team will have access to various application programming interfaces (API) from the federal government, as well as the Visa Developer Platform.
With the ability to pull data from the SBA's open data sources and Visa's financial tech, officials hope one team will be able to turn their laptops and digital know-how into potential real-world solutions.
Picking a winner
At the end of the weekend, a group of judges will select the top three apps developed. The judges include SBA Chief Information Officer Maria Roat, Visa Vice President for Global Small Business Nate Smith, Technical.ly Market Editor Michelai Graham, and Janice Jucker, president of Three Brothers Bakery, representing a Houston small business that recovered in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
SBA Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton and David Simon, Visa senior vice president for global small business, will hand out the awards, with first place taking home $25,000, second place receiving $15,000 and third place getting $10,000.
Along with the grand prizes, a $5,000 award will go to the Visa API Challenge Winner, and another $5,000 will go to the Authorize.Net API Challenge Winner.
National Small Business Week
For more than five decades, National Small Business Week has been recognized with a presidential proclamation touting the societal and economic contributions of American small business owners and entrepreneurs. According to the SBA, "more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year."
Over the course of the week, various seminars and workshops will be held both in Washington, D.C., and online in an effort to further educate small business owners on topics like social media best practices and digital commerce.
Sunday, May 5 and Monday, May 6 will also feature awards ceremonies to celebrate some of the country's most successful and impactful entrepreneurs.