DAG Supports Emerging Construction Companies towards Post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery

Over the last 5 years, the construction industry has experienced a decline in the implementation of new infrastructure projects due to the public sector’s underspending on capital budgets. This underspending, coupled with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has caused significant job losses in the construction industry and has placed significant burdens on emerging contractors as activities were halted and new occupational health and safety conditions were introduced.

The construction industry has the potential to stimulate the country’s economic recovery, but this requires proactiveness from the public sector to implement projects. According to the National Infrastructure Plan and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, the construction industry’s readiness to participate in the economic recovery process is crucial. To this end, capacity building and strengthening of both private and public sector players in the construction field is vital. It is also essential that the capacity of emerging construction companies is strengthened in order to allow them to meaningfully participate in economic activities and not be left, as tended to be the case with construction sector interventions pre-COVID-19. As the country embarks on establishing a new status quo, both the public and private sector need to be intentional in empowering previously disadvantaged people who have historically had limited ability to participate in the country’s economy. This includes small scale emerging contractors.

Over the years, the DAG has been advocating for the creation of an enabling environment for emerging construction companies, who, with a little support, can make significant contributions to the country’s economy. In 2017, DAG incubated and launched the Contractor & Developer Academy (CDA), geared at improving and enhancing the capabilities of emerging contractors and developers to operate sustainable businesses and contribute towards job creation. The CDA does this by conducting information sessions with emerging contractors in historically disadvantaged areas of Cape Town, where it addresses issues of compliance, business management, procurement, and personal development. In addition, the CDA delivers annual tailor-made training programmes where emerging contractors from all over the Cape Metro are invited to enroll and participate in a learning process. Those who take part in these programmes receive a certificate of participation after completing the training, free of charge. After the training, the CDA continues to support the alumni through mentorship and ad-hoc support until these emerging contractors are steady enough to run their business on their own.

Since inception, the CDA has capacitated over 250 emerging contractors through information sessions, and directly trained over 80 contractors. Specific attention is paid to capacitating female contractors and youth from previously disadvantaged communities.

This year, CDA enrolled 19 emerging contractors with the goal of equipping them to participate significantly in South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery process. These 19 participants hailed from across the Cape Metro areas, ranging from areas such as Khayelitsha, Philippi, Joe Slovo, Blackheath, Gugulethu, Pinelands, Woodstock and Vredehoek. Given that it is #womensmonth, we are also excited to share that approximately 73% of this year’s participants were #women.

2022’s training programme commenced in April and was concluded with a graduation ceremony at the end of  July, where participants were celebrated and awarded with certificates of completion. The course was delivered through a hybrid approach, where theoretical content was delivered virtually and practical content was delivered through in-person sessions.

The training was delivered by a professional quantity surveyor and construction management expert, Ms. Amanda Filtane, who is a seasoned lecture at the University of Cape Town’s department of Construction Economics and Management. The facilitator delivered six modules of practical and theoretical content, covering the following:

👉🏾Module 1: Occupational Health & Safety. This aimed at assisting contractors to produce their own Covid-19 Policies and implementation schedule to make the workplace COVID-19 ready/compliant. This also included discussions on Site OHS Files and Health and Safety Plans.

👉🏾Module 2: Construction Business Management. This aimed to support contractors to develop a marketing portfolio.

👉🏾Module 3: Diversifying Business Portfolio. This exposed the participants to construction business models and capacitated  them to develop business canvases.

👉🏾Module 4: Procurement Processes and Procedures and Tendering: This module was geared at assisting start-ups and semi-active construction companies with understanding procurement guides, supply chain documents, and tender procedures.

👉🏾Module 5: Project Start Up: This module sought to provide construction companies with tools for project planning, execution, supervision, and control.

👉🏾Module 6: Personal Development: This module examined social environment, innovation, leadership skills and         entrepreneurship

On the 30th of July 2022, the CDA hosted a graduation ceremony to reward the hard work and commitment shown by the class of 2022. The CDA’s objective is not only to build the capacity of emerging contractors, but to also to see them meaningfully participating in the construction sector and contributing to local economic development. This therefore requires going beyond merely delivering training programmes, and also requires facilitating engagements with stakeholders in the built environment sector in order to create an enabling environment where emerging contractors are able to access sustainable business opportunities that contribute towards job creation.

The CDA has been very intentional with its advocacy efforts this year. In so doing, the team invited various sector players to the CDA 2022 Contractors Award Ceremony. This included expert guest speakers from both the private and public sector, whose inputs motivated and further capacitated the emerging contractors. Among the key speakers were: representatives from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), who shared some of the available finance products and grants available for emerging businesses; Charles Croese, a retired professional project manager who shared insights from over 40 years of experience in the private and public sector; and Brian Bango, from Istena Group, who shared his experiences of navigating the construction sector after he established his construction company right at the peak of the

COVID-19 pandemic. With support from DAG and the CDA’s capacity building programme, Mr Bango has managed to grow his construction business from CIDB grading level 1 to level 3.

After the inspiring speeches, there was consensus that the inclusion of previously disadvantaged groups into the economic activities of the country requires effort from multiple stakeholders. The event was concluded with a closing ceremony, in which certificates were handed out.

As a leading non-profit organization in the urban development sector, DAG continues strives towards creating, implementing, and supporting community-centered developments that address economic, social, and spatial inequalities. The training and capacitation of emerging contractors through the CDA will continue to play a big role in this mission going forward.

See the how the final day of the CDA Contractor Training Programme went in pictures…

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