Beating Poverty, and the Sicilian Mafia, with a Nonprofit

Beating Poverty, and the Sicilian Mafia, with a Nonprofit

Italy is a beguiling mixture of myth and progress, a nation that originally set the standard for ancient civilizations while subsequently becoming a hostage of its own identity. However, its rich heritage has not always included prosperity for all its citizens. For Southern Italy, this is particularly true as economic hardship and the ongoing influence of the Mafia have turned Sicily into a stereotype. For Andrea Nocera, the goal of his Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is to join forces with a pool of Italian and American supporters to redirect the future of that region. In particular, Nocera feels that the potential of Sicily is undervalued. To combat that, he and his team want to utilize art, music and literature to enact the change that’s needed.

Their first step is to use crowdfunding donations to create a nonprofit society that will be devoted to bettering the conditions of the Italians of Sicily and the southern region; after that, they want to launch an international newspaper, followed by a film. Their target goal is to raise $797,501 by December 19. This mixed media approach to economic development reflects both Nocera’s faith in the arts and the Italian tradition of artistic and cultural achievement. The graduates who will be supporting this project have studied economics, finance, communications, and music. That blend of specialties intends to tackle Southern Italy’s problems with a multi-pronged approach that uses their talents on behalf of their country’s people.

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They hope to attract donors by creating new jobs in a region that desperately needs an employment surge. The foundation of their economic blueprint is to defeat the Mafia and internationalize many small but promising enterprises that are unknown to the world. Because of geographic concerns and the prevalence of pre-conceived notions about Italians, some of them actually held by Italians in other parts of the country, an unpromising political situation, along with the existing problems in the region, doubt lingers that a revitalization project has any hope of succeeding. The numbers are daunting. It’s true that part of the poverty can be blamed on the Mafia; although the crime organization has less power than in bygone days, the protection money that Sicilian businesses must pay to the Mafia means that poor people with limited means must pay more for their food and clothing. Sicily, with a population of five million, has a GDP that’s less than half that of the rest of Italy, with the failure to advance that makes the island appear to be locked in another era. Fifty-five percent of the working-age population is either unemployed or underemployed. But that’s not all that’s wrong. Palermo, which has the highest population of any of Sicily’s cities, has few libraries and bookstores. Nocera knows that Sicilians need those books as well as the jobs.

Nocera’s background is economics and finance; his personal interests combine spirituality, poetry, and social media and it’s clear that he’s found a way to focus his abilities on a region that needs the attention. Nocera’s plan to neutralize the Mafia’s reach won’t be easy to accomplish, but his plan to draw on Italy’s native culture and artistic talent shows that he’s calling on the country’s nobler traditions.

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