Southern Italy suffers from a high poverty rate, unemployment, emigration flows, and a strong presence of organized crime in the field of agriculture. This study seeks to investigate the potential of social enterprises as driving forces for the legal and eco-social development of fragile Southern Italian areas. To work in such challenging contexts requires the development of a high level of resilience, which implies the ability to adapt to difficulties and to overcome crises by coming out stronger than before. The initiatives we detected in Southern Italy are examples for the strength that can come from ideal motivations. In the case of social agriculture initiatives in Southern Italy counteracting organized crime, these motivations are an indispensable condition for their survival and growth. The accumulation of problems and difficulties, however, risks corroding motivations of the actors. This can lead to the withdrawal of members, which can have a serious impact on these small organizations. Thus, idealism is a necessary condition to face the challenges of legal and social environmental development, but it is not sufficient on its own, except in the short term, to allow social enterprises to emerge from extremely precarious conditions. Idealism can support resilience, but by itself, it cannot create a sustainable change. There is, therefore, the need to invest in these social enterprises, in the training of the actors involved, and in the selection and acquisition of the skills for strengthening the efficiency and sustainability of businesses and to foster horizontal structures of mutuality and solidarity to create a supportive environment for these social enterprises and their mission.
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