Pretoria-The Independent Development Trust (IDT) has unveiled a Contract Development Programme aimed at providing opportunities to emerging contractors in the building and construction industries.
The Contract Development Programme (CDP) is a joint initiative of the IDT and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and is set to create a pool of capable, sustainable, self-sufficient and highly skilled contractors to compete with the best in infrastructure development.
IDT Chief Executive Officer, Thembi Nwendamutswu, said together they had developed the programme because they could no longer sit back and despair about the skills shortage and limited financial resources.
They decided to intervene to ensure that the growth in the sector was matched with requisite and diverse skills in the system.
The IDT boss said it had been the challenges in the construction sector which had forced them to create an enabling environment for contractors to access opportunities, positioning them to the future as well as taking advantage of the long-term projected growth in infrastructure development.
Without deliberate and effective intervention, the emerging contractors would not readily graduate to commercially sustainable and technically proficient players in the construction industry.
"Failure to intervene in this space would mean that the 82 584 contractors will remain trapped in the category of emerging contractor, unable to grow their businesses as well as unable to create decent jobs," she said.
Speaking at the unveiling of the programme in Pretoria on Friday, Nwendamutswu said the programme targeted contractors from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, mainly in the rural areas who are registered between Grades 1 to 5 on the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge urged women in particular to take advantage of the newly launched programme.
"We want to urge women, especially in our rural areas, to stop viewing the sector as a male-dominated field. We want them to get involved as well so that they can improve their socio-economic conditions," he said.
Nhlanhla Nyembe of the NEF said their role would be that of providing loan facility for the working capital requirements of qualifying contractors who participate in the programme.
In the process of submitting tender documents, contractors would be required to complete NEF Loan Applications forms.
"We will issue loans at prime less 2 percent. The working capital will be made available to the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in a staggered manner depending on the value of the contract and the experience of the SMME," he said.
SMME's in construction sector are known for a high rate of non-payment to creditors. This is due to poor work planning, poor costing and lack of access to capital.
The CDP has embarked on a leverage creation programme that provides skills training, mentorship and construction management and the provision of financial support to qualifying contractors.
A third partner in the programme aimed at contributing towards the empowerment of disadvantaged communities by providing opportunities to existing contractors as well as emerging entrepreneurs in the building and construction industries is Siseko Se-Afrika (SACE).
SACE, Chief Executive Officer, Mduduzi Ndlovu said: "We conduct an assessment of the contractor's needs. On this basis, the company allocates a mentor to work with the contractor in terms of their technical and skills needs.
"Similarly we link them with a mentor to ensure that they build up a key business system including business management, financial management and governance system."
Already there are 50 women contractors registered on the CDP.