ALLIANCE – an alliance for the development of enterprise creation and employment in rural areas (1997-2000)


The project originated from a large multidisciplinary action of research, designed and built with European funds by the ARTES institute,  in the late ‘90s.

Alliance is an innovative model, perfected through long experience  and recognised successful in different parts of the world since 1998. Alliance is a program of civil, economic and cultural regeneration, developed through a pedagogy of learning _ change of entire communities, conceived as ever-changing real living beings. It is a radical new attempt to develop and regenerate rural areas, in less developed regions, having high quality natural environment and art & craft heritage.

All this in the final aim of generating sustainable competitive businesses integrated in a specific district.


The main purpose of ALLIANCE is to promote radical changes in fragile regions, preserving the identity of communities and encouraging them to play the role of protagonist.

The model has been developed for the assessment and development of the competencies of entire local communities in specific economically depressed areas with strong potential for the development of rural tourism and craft but where there are deep-rooted obstacles to change. The project aimed at recovering the most authentic and positive roots of the rural culture with a view to fostering the growth of the productive capacities and developing a strong presence in the international market .


Policy makers at international, national and local level concerned with local development, rural tourism, handicrafts, female entrepreneurialism, business start-up, competitiveness of SMEs, strategies for dealing with long-term unemployment.

The social, business, craft and artistic fabric of the territory  (especially women), which through the model, strengthen its ties and become aware of its capabilities and potential.


The first pilot experience of Alliance was carried out in one of the poorest regions of southern Europe, Calabria, known for rooted phenomenon of ndrangeta’ and feuds between families, which last for generations.

The Artes institute has developed and tested on the field new models of support for the creation of enterprise that involved a process of learning for change” within a local community. In three geographic areas, we have witnessed the development of three different groups of producers and local officials who have imposed a code setting standards for the quality of their products and services and the rules for partnerships; they also created a brand to gain visibility and a recognition of location. A network of 42 companies led mainly by women and their families were accompanied along a path that has led them to be competitive on the national and international market, in four production sectors: hospitality, handicrafts, agriculture and tourism services. More than 100 mayors have participated in the drafting of a “Charter of environmental quality.”
At the same time the program has been implemented both in another region of the Italian Mezzogiorno, Basilicata (territorially narrower), characterised by the absence of conflicts and a cohesive social fabric; and in a region of Romania, the Alba Iulia dealing with severe poverty derived from the recent collapse of the Soviet Union and the even far inclusion in the European Union.


The past positive experiences in the regions of southern Italy and Romania, have confirmed that the model is replicable in areas that present similar characteristics. In this regard, the Institute ARTES has adapted the model to the situation in Burundi (Alliance_Urunani) and, more recently, it has pledged to study the applicability of the model in the interior regions of Tunisia (Gafsa-Kasserine).

From this dynamic of the creation of innovative relational capital we can expect the development of:

    • a managed process of generation, maintenance and capitalisation of high-quality know-how;
    • an ever-more ready and diffuse acceptance of new practices and points of reference and the abandoning of habits which block innovation (creative forgetting);
    • the expansion of entrepreneurial ability and co-operation capacity including that of women, generally neglected;

Lilia Infelise, Nuove relazioni tra approcci cognitivi ed economici, nuovi spazi e forme di democrazia partecipativa. Per una pedagogia del cambiamento in aree fragili, paper included in La crisi dei confini. Verso un’ingegneria dello sviluppo regionale , Published by Franco Angeli, Milan, 2007.

Lilia Infelise, Apprendere e cambiare in una comunità locale, paper included in I luoghi dell’apprendimento. Metodi, strumenti e casi di eccellenza delle nuove formazioni, published by Franco Angeli, Milan, 2002.

Lilia Infelise, Territoire Anticipateur: un “être vivant” en apprentissage, in POUR, n. 192, Paris, December 2006.

Lilia Infelise, ALLIANCE – an alliance for the development of business and employment in rural areas: a community learning model, paper presented at the 42° Congress ERSA, Dortmund, 27th-31st August 2002.

Lilia Infelise, ALLIANCE - an alliance for the development of business and employment in rural areas: a community learning model, paper presented at the Congress Reiventing Regions in the Global Economy (Regional Studies Association), Pisa, 12th-13th April 2003.

Project progress