PUBLIC Works Minister Geoff Doidge has applauded a new programme aimed at assisting previously disadvantaged and female contractors in the construction industry.
The minister hailed the programme as a "recipe for success" that should be followed by other government departments.
Doidge was speaking at the launch of the Contractors Development Programme at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria on Friday.
The programme is a partnership between the Independent Development Trust (IDT), National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and Siseko se Africa Consulting Enterprise (Sace).
Doidge said: "This programme is the most exciting model I have seen in a long time. It should be replicated in other government departments. It is a recipe for success."
He said critics should stop saying that the programme was doomed to fail.
IDT chief executive Thembi Nwedamutswu said the partnership was to address the skills shortage and the scarcity of opportunities in the construction sector for emerging and previously disadvantaged contractors.
"As the IDT we had to cancel some contracts with contractors not because they cannot do the work but because of resources," she said.
"This pains us and we hope that because of the programme this will never happen again."
One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Sibusisiwe Kitane of Eastern Cape, said the programme had taught her about business skills and the risks involved on and off site.
"I depended on my family and friends for capital when I received business and that limited me to small contracts," Kitane said.
The NEF has set aside R50million to help raise the required 10percent guarantee and working capital.
The contractor could access a loan between R250000 and R5million at prime less 2percent.
Though no amount has been set aside for women contractors, the loans would be gender biased towards women.
Sace would conduct the assessment of the contractor's needs and allocate a mentor to work with them in terms of their needs.
The IDT will create opportunities for the emerging contractors.