Establishing relationships at political, social, educational, cultural and historical level and extending them to economic level.
Institutional, political, social, cultural relationships gave birth to new contact in the economic sectors and to initiatives aimed at promoting the culture of internationalization:
- Promotion of Reggio Emilia’s values, expertise, products and services through the definition of internationalization processes.
- Support to enterprises in creating partnerships in new markets and/or strengthening the existing ones.
- Opening of new internationalization routes based on pilot projects envisaging new perspectives for the South African Black Economy.
The city has implemented a project for the internationalization of the local and regional SMEs aimed at creating a stable and innovative economic partnership. The project formalizes the actions taken in previous years in the fields of agricultural mechanics, mechanics in the agro-industrial sector, agriculture and agri-food, energy, environment, water resources.
The economic actors and the local companies involved were followed in the definition of targeted "package" proposals and services for the South African demand, also through training activities, consultation on site, coaching to businesses.
This approach was possible thanks to the development of a bond of understanding and friendship based: the concepts of solidarity, trust and friendship developed through multi-sectorial and multi-level relationships gave the city a competitive advantage widely recognized by African partners.

Resources needed

The financial resources used to implement this GP come from two different sources: institutional activities have been funded directly by the Municipality for around 10.000€ per year; economic activities have been realized within a project implemented with E35 Foundation for a total value of 95.800€.

Evidence of success

In 2016, participation of 10 enterprises, 2 consortia with 27 members to activities, 22 corporate surveys carried out to learn about needs and opportunities of local enterprises towards Africa; economic representatives met with 60 enterprises and associations; 30 B2B meetings with companies and institutional actors; training activity for 80 young entrepreneurs designed to promote the economy of the townships. In 2017 and 2018, 2 economical missions organised in Gauteng.

Difficulties encountered

The main challenges were represented by the prudence initially shown by the local enterprises and by the difficulty to demonstrate to them the competitive advantage that this deep level of relationship could play in the development of internationalisation processes.

Potential for learning or transfer

As in the case of Reggio Emilia, there are other realities engaged in institutional relations (agreements, twinning projects, etc.) with various cities and regions in the world that may constitute, as in the case of this GP, the starting point for building tools, policies, activities and partnerships able to create solid and stable economic relationships and support the internationalization attempts of local companies. Therefore lessons learned from this GP can easily be integrated in cities and regions efforts to find right levers to support internationalization strategies of a territory for the benefit of enterprises.

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Main institution
Municipality of Reggio Emilia
Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
January 2015
End Date


Saverio Serri Please login to contact the author.