Calabria, Italy, is renowned for its stunning coastal beauty and mountainous landscapes. Its picturesque southern region poses as an exciting invitation to young adventurers with an entrepreneurial spirit. Imagine owning an artisan boutique while basking in the warm, sun-soaked embrace of a charming village. The dream could soon become a reality as Calabria pledges to bestow up to £26,000 (Rs 26.48 lakh) over a maximum of three years upon those willing to breathe life into these sleepy Italian hamlets.

However, there’s a catch – the call is only open to individuals under 40. They must be prepared to relocate within 90 days of their application’s approval and can only live in nine towns that each have fewer than 2,000 residents. The final and crucial stipulation is that prospective residents must be ready to start a business, whether from scratch or by filling specific professional roles identified by the villages.

Also Read: Token Releases in Indian Cinema: A New Trend and Its Impact

Calabria, often hailed as Italy’s “toe,” is renowned for its stunning beauty. Over the years, it has faced a significant population decline, a trend that has many locals worried. In many of Calabria’s small towns, demand has far outstripped supply as Italy’s own young people flock to larger cities. To address this issue and to breathe new life into the region’s communities, Calabria is unveiling a groundbreaking scheme.

italy calabria small business

The plan is straightforward: provide financial incentives to young individuals eager to work and contribute to the local economy. In return, they would receive a monthly income that could range from £26,000 (Rs 26.48 lakh) over a three-year period or a one-time lump sum to support the launch of a new commercial endeavour. Foreigners can get creative about what type of business they’d like to launch, whether a bed-and-breakfast, a farm, or a restaurant.

Restaurants, shops, bed and breakfasts, or hotels are among the most sought-after business ventures encouraged by the region’s officials. Gianluca Gallo, one of the architects behind this unique concept, asserts that the primary goal is to boost the local economy and breathe fresh life into these small-scale communities.

The initiative, known as “active residency income,” is set to open applications in the coming weeks, with approximately £620,000 (Rs 6.31 crore) earmarked to fund this. With over 75% of Calabria’s towns hosting fewer than 5,000 residents, the need for revitalization is urgent.

Gallo revealed that this initiative might serve as a precursor to more extensive repopulation projects. The technical details, including the exact monthly amount and duration of the funds, are being refined, and there’s contemplation of extending the offer to slightly larger villages with up to 3,000 residents. Villages that will pay you to move in are Civita, Samo and Precacore, Aieta, Bova, Caccuri, Albidona, and Santa Severina among others. The pilot project was signed in December 2020 with about $750,000 in financing and started issuing checks in 2021. Participants receive payments in either a lump sum or in monthly allowances.

small business italy

Councillor Gianluca Gallo, who reportedly helped come up with the scheme, said in 2021 he hopes to preserve the region’s bucolic small towns because they “are the true identity of the territory.” Without new investment, those towns could eventually disappear, Gallo warned. Towns can send in information about which types of jobs are in short supply. Officials will then pair people with the villages whose needs match their skill sets or interests.

“We’ve had a huge interest from villages and hopefully, if this first scheme works, more are likely to follow in coming years,” Gallo said. Italy is far from the only nation looking to preserve local communities by attracting foreigners. In 2021, Japan began offering abandoned homes for $500 or less to try to battle negative population growth and an internal rush to the country’s urban centers. A 2018 study revealed Japan had about 8.5 million unoccupied homes.

Ireland, meanwhile, will give $80,000 to people willing to restore homes on about 30 remote islands, which can only be reached by boat or aircraft.