July 21, 2015

Investing in Southern Italy

Economy

A few weeks ago I was in Aci Sant’Antonio near Catania (Sicily), visiting SIFI, a leading company in the ophthalmology sector in which I, together with 21 Investimenti, decided to believe in, a firm that can be compared to the ultimate hidden gem. It’s a small piece of the mosaic that is being created by that part of Southern Italy that through a great deal of hard work has managed to create job opportunities and wealth in a territory that badly needed a lifeline. There, after I got to know the firm better, I’ve committed to trying to help it grow and establish on an international level.

There are all the right ingredients: young and capable entrepreneurs such as the Chines brothers, driven by passion and determination; high quality human resources in a company that has made its relationship with universities one of its fundamental points; a scientific and technologic know-how that has guaranteed throughout the years (the company was founded eighty years ago) constant development and innovation in the research field, to the highest global standards. Being able to kickstart this company’s valorization process, maximising the potentials of its extraordinary heritage, is a thrilling challenge.

SIFI however is not an exception. Southern Italy has been riddled with undeniable, chronic problems, which have been often left unaddressed for decades, yet, there are many people that despite everything, have managed to build outstanding companies that have proved to have the right cards to be sector leaders. Thinking about the work I’ve done with 21 Investimenti for example, Abruzzo-born Valentino Scotti comes to mind. After establishing wine firm Farnese, he has turned it into a role model for all other companies in the wine sector, exporting the 90% of its production – which is entirely located in Southern Italy.

There are many historical, artistic, agricultural and environmental lodes and business opportunities in Southern Italy that deserve more attention. Politicians and institutions are those who should indeed provide the necessary infrastructures to guarantee the basic conditions needed to make a business work. At the same time, believing in this area’s extraordinary potentials is something entrepreneurs should do for a country that needs to look at the future with hope and trust.

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