In response to the coronavirus pandemic — and amid its own challenges applying for federal aid — WeWork Navy Yard-based CUCollaborate has launched an online marketplace connecting small businesses to credit unions offering Paycheck Protection Program loans.
CUCollaborate is a six-year-old consulting, software development and digital marketing company with a mission to help credit unions grow via tech products and strategies. The new website, called Balanced Wallet, shows small businesses which credit unions they are qualified to join and borrow from.
“This is a critical time for small businesses and this loan can be a lifesaver. I believe this is a significant opportunity for credit unions to support their local community and gain new members,” said CUCollaborate CEO Sam Brownell in a statement. “The PPP Loan just opened up last Friday and banks like Wells Fargo are already closing their application process and stranding thousands of small business.” (Wells Fargo temporarily stopped accepting apps, but the Federal Reserve lifted its asset cap to allow it to reopen.)
The website leverages CUCollaborate’s eligibility software, JoinCU, to help determine which credit unions small businesses qualify for. The platform is free to use for credit unions and small businesses. CUCollaborate is asking credit unions offering PPP loans, which are funneled from the Small Business Administration and offer businesses two months of employees’ pay, to reach out to be listed on the site if they aren’t already included.
There has been much confusion surrounding the PPP loan process. Balanced Wallet was created to help simplify some details.
Over the past two weeks, COO Chris Tissue told Technical.ly, CUCollaborate has even applied to some COVID-related government relief loans itself, including the PPP and SBA’s disaster loan, as well as D.C.’s microgrant program. Specifically when applying for PPP, Tissue said that the company “felt like there was a sense of urgency and tried to gather all required documentation ahead of time.”
In contrast, the process was “fairly smooth” when applying for the District’s grant program, despite the fact that that application was updated after CUCollaborate submitted its first one.
“Luckily our paperwork was in order but across all of the aforementioned programs, there was a ton of confusion as to the final format of submission, what was allowed versus not allowed, and revisions to the process,” said Tissue. “We had to do at least all of them twice do to the aforementioned issues. We still aren’t sure that our submissions were acceptable. There seems to be a ‘moving target’ of sorts.”
Overall, Tissue said he feels like the COVID-related government funding application processes have been too challenging, and bringing more stress and strain than anything else.
“Obviously these are massive programs with a ton of operational requirements. Vetting loans, protecting against fraud, etc. That stuff all takes time and I get that. However … this is a crisis,” said Tissue. “You would hope that the government would kind of understand the magnitude of the work involved operationalizing something like this and try to find some workarounds to get money out there. So, while I feel for them, some degree of immediacy is critical if the whole intent is to keep small business employees employed.”-30-