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Michelle and Duan Gavel are creators of the All Things Diverse SGF app that promotes diverse people and businesses in the Springfield area. Big Momma's Coffee & Espresso bar on C-Street is one of the businesses listed.
JYM WILSON | SBJ
Michelle and Duan Gavel are creators of the All Things Diverse SGF app that promotes diverse people and businesses in the Springfield area. Big Momma's Coffee & Espresso bar on C-Street is one of the businesses listed.

On the Map: All Things Diverse SGF app designed to help locals find variety of multicultural services

Posted online

 Michelle and Duan Gavel are fulfilling a vision for Springfield: Anyone in the community can find multicultural businesses and services just by opening an app on their smartphones.

As owners and founders of All Things Diverse SGF, the Gavels designed the app that serves as a directory of hundreds of diverse businesses, organizations and resources in the Springfield area.

The app is available on both Google Play and the App Store. It debuted in July 2022 and has since been downloaded over 1,000 times and received 35 five-star reviews.

Michelle Gavel said she moved to Springfield from Chicago to attend Missouri State University in 2003, and it was difficult for her at the time to find businesses in the Queen City that provided the hair care she needed.

“I would basically have time on breaks where I would go home, get all my hair care products and visit my hairdresser so that I could get those kinds of things taken care of, because I didn’t know where to locate those things down here in Springfield,” she said.

Duan said his and Michelle’s personal struggles in finding diverse resources is what grew into the idea of creating the All Things Diverse SGF app. 

“Springfield is so word-of-mouth and it drives me a little crazy,” he said. “If you’re not in the little group that knows, you might miss it. I felt like a lot of things in Springfield were that way, and there needs to be an easier way to list all the diverse things and someone can go to one place to see it all.”

Building an app 
While All Things Diverse SGF is free for users and for businesses or organizations listed on the app, All Things Diverse SGF LLC is a side business owned by the Gavels to provide technology services.

For their day jobs, Michelle is director of student access and opportunity for Springfield Public Schools, and Duan is a reliability compliance specialist for City Utilities of Springfield.

Duan graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2007 and also received a bachelor’s in information technology/software development in 2021. He used those skills to create the All Things Diverse SGF app.

App users are able to search for businesses by category from services like real estate agents to personal care.

Once a business is located in the app, the user can find contact information or a direct link to the website. 

Besides businesses, there are also university resources such as multicultural groups or scholarship opportunities related to diversity, listed from Missouri State University and Drury University. Organizations such as the Amigos Latinos-Hispanic network and industry professionals are also included in the app.

Diverse resources listed include multicultural small businesses, nonprofits, organizations or industry professionals seeking to serve the underrepresented, under-resourced or multicultural customer, Duan said. He said the demographics represented include people with disabilities, women-owned businesses, LGBTQ+, veterans, various religions, races and ethnicities, and multilingual people. Developing the app wasn’t difficult, Duan said, due to its simple design and functionality, but finding what businesses and organizations to include took up the bulk of the effort. He said he started with adding diverse businesses in the community the Gavels knew of first, and then online research through Google and Facebook. Duan input the details, such as business contact information and direct links to those businesses’ websites.

“It did take a lot of work to get that data in the app,” he said. “But once the data was in there, the way the app was designed, it would just display it.” 

Michelle said in addition to helping the community connect with diverse businesses, they also wanted to help diverse business owners by offering a unique marketing platform. She noted many are small businesses.

“We wanted to highlight that those resources are here,” she said of diverse businesses. “You just have to know where to find them. Instead of just stumbling upon them by chance, let’s be intentional about getting information out in front of the community.”

In Springfield as of 2017, the most recent data available on businesses at Census.gov, there were 473 minority-owned, 1,067 women-owned and 301 veteran-owned businesses in the city.

The Gavels don’t charge businesses to be listed on the app.

“We noticed that when we’re talking to these businesses, they don’t have a lot of startup capital,” he said. “These are little nonprofits or businesses with a few people or less, and a lot of minority-owned businesses are that way.”

For the app itself, Duan said it cost the Gavels $1,200 a year, which includes maintenance.

 Increased branding
Jeffery Bates, owner of 417 Good Eat’N LLC, a company that provides reviews, videos and photos on social media platforms about local restaurants, said the app highlights not just diverse business owners, but also what’s local to Springfield. He said many local diverse business owners don’t focus on awareness when it comes to the new generation of marketing. 

“It really helps local business owners on a local app, where they don’t have to worry about reviews or getting their page on Google, but it’s just all in one spot,” he said. 

Bates is listed in the app as a food industry professional. Through 417 Good Eat’N, he visits area restaurants, making videos, posting reviews and documenting the stories. Bates, who started promoting local restaurant owners in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, has over 10,000 followers on his Facebook page, has followers on Instagram and TikTok, and has subscribers to his YouTube channel. He said the app has helped some of the smaller, locally owned restaurants find another avenue to grow their brand. 

“It’s all the diverse restaurants you might be looking for, in the palm of your hand,” he said. “Businesses are just right there. Even for my wife’s graduation, we were looking for a photographer, and we ended up finding our photographer on the All Things Diverse SGF app.” 

Looking forward
Darline Mabins, community diversity and equity director for Community Partnership of the Ozarks Inc. and executive director of the Multicultural Business Association, said more resources can only help grow inclusivity locally. The MBA has approximately 100 members and meets on the second Tuesday of each month.

Mabins said she moved to Springfield in 2000, and in the 23 years she’s been in the Queen City, the level of diversity awareness has grown, as has the desire to have more multicultural services.

“Our population has increased, but I believe that Springfield is moving toward being more inclusive, and I’m excited,” she said. “Diversity is for all of us.” 

According to the Census Bureau, Springfield’s population from the 2010 census to the 2020 census grew by 10,000 people. In 2020, 16% of the city’s population was minority, compared with 10.5% in 2010. The census data defines a minority as Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino or someone of two or more races.

Currently, Duan said there are about 400 resources and growing in the app. The All Things Diverse SGF group on Facebook has over 1,000 members and has posts almost daily from page members.

“I want this app to truly be a one-stop shop when you talk about diversity,” Duan said.

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