The creation of the social economy cluster is the result of a long process started in the 90’s with the creation of a first social economy think-tank based in Messina, which gradually established strong links with several local institutional and civil society actors. Step by step new social economy entities (foundations, non-for-profit entities, cooperatives, etc.) were created working in the educational, welfare, industrial, cultural, scientific and technological sectors. This group of highly diversified entities created in 2010 the Messina Community Foundation, charged to lead and coordinate the whole social economy cluster.
1998 – the social cooperative Ecos-Med is created to launch the first experimentations for advanced models of community welfare in Messina. Following a research-action approach, Ecos-Med fosters innovative socio-economic systems providing to marginalized people alternative options on education, housing, job inclusion, etc., inspired by Amartya Sen’s capability approach.
1999 – the consortium Sol.E. is created to gather several local social cooperatives in Messina, aiming at the development of marginalized people substantive freedoms.
2001 – the Padre Pino Puglisi Foundation is created as main financial instrument to counteract usury in the Messina area, and it also fosters projects of social and inclusive economy.
2001 – the Horcynus Orca Foundation, joining Universities, research centres, Municipalities and social economy organisations, is created as an international centre for technological and environmental research, acting as a scientific and cultural dissemination centre and educational space.
2010 – such experimentations paved the way to the creation of a wide social economy cluster composed of highly diversified entities, called “Advanced Social Cluster”. Such cluster decided to create the “Fondazione di Comunità di Messina” as leading entity, charged to coordinate the cluster and design, co-finance and implement social development policies. Several additional partners, representing social economy and social finance at national and international level, joined the creation of the Foundation.
After its consolidation in the city of Messina, the experience of the Community Foundation and its cluster became widely known and several other local communities asked for its support. Since 2015 it works also in Mirabella Imbaccari (in the province of Catania), since 2020 in Salina (Aeolian archipelago) and since 2021 also in Roccavaldina and Novara di Sicilia (two municipalities in the province of Messina).