I am Elisabetta, an international relation graduate from Sicily who has recently decided to move back to their place of origin after some years of wondering through Europe. Last month I had the incredible opportunity of joining the Impact Hub Siracusa team to work on the ENISIE project as an IVY volunteer, within the framework of Interreg Italia-Malta 2014-2020. ENISIE wants to stimulate the creation and strengthening of enterprises (micro, small and medium) of the Sicily-Malta cross-border area in the sectors of social enterprise and social responsibility through the experimentation of new social business services and the promotion of practices of social innovation, as well as the consolidation of a cross-border platform dedicated to social innovation throughout the Mediterranean basin.
What makes this project really stand out is its capacity to intercept the complementarities and asymmetries of the two cross-border areas, Sicily and Malta, that are not yet fully realised in practice and turn them into points of strength from which to build and learn from each other. That is also why we focus on those sectors in which the Mediterranean has few rivals: food and tourism. Sustainable tourism and food tech, to be precise.
At the moment we are focussing on implementing the “Covid-oriented activities” that support those social enterprises that have been struggling to keep up with the Covid pandemic. The services oﬀered through Impact Hub’s Siracusa Help Desk generally include support in the development of the business model, impact measurement services and counselling with regards to access to preferential ﬁnancing. Some enterprises also receive counselling in marketing and communication strategies. My main tasks as an IVY are research-based. I am currently investigating new models of sustainable tourism in the post-pandemic era in Sicily, learning from the experience of innovative enterprises that reinvented themselves as a consequence of COVID, and collecting my ﬁndings on a study on sustainable tourism.
For me one of the great added value of this experience is to see ﬁrst-hand how European cooperation can be made eﬀective and valuable in my place of origin, Sicily, a region of Europe that is in great need of exchange with others and fresh perspectives. European cooperation is not about uniformity, rather it’s all about cherishing diﬀerences and giving us the chance of being the best Mediterraneans we can possibly be.
Elisabetta, IVY Project Parter at The Hub Sicilia Società Cooperativa, for the ENISIE project