Get inspired: Two SMEs in rural tourism share their experience about their participation in MobiliseSME


Recently, we had the opportunity to interview two SMEs dedicated to rural tourism, which are taking part in MobiliseSME: Salvatore Greco, from Sikanamente, and Yoselin Chicasaca, from AIE International Business.

Previously, we already told you in one of our posts about how these two SMEs are collaborating throughout their participation in the MobiliseSME programme.

Read on and find out all the details about their collaboration:

Yoselin, can you tell us a bit about your SME and your professional path? Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME? How did you find out about the programme?

I studied international trade and business management and have 10 years experience working in companies specialized in the international sector, consulting and training for entrepreneurs both in Peru and Spain. In addition to those activities, I collaborate with Axel Lugo-Association of Young Entrepreneurs of Lugo in the development and coordination of projects for young people and entrepreneurs.

I also collaborate with entrepreneurs located in the rural and tourism sectors to develop marketing strategies for products, services and promote the impulse to other markets.

When I got to know about the MobiliseSME programme a few months ago in a meeting that we had with my internship colleagues, they recommended me to take part in it. I take it as a basis to promote the relationship of the project (Prizzi – Santiago de Compostela – Lugo). My motivation to participate in this project was to visit the Prizzi area where the association is located and be able to share strategic ideas about cultural heritage and cultural activities in touristic routes.

What about you, Salvatore? Tell us about your SME.

Sikanamente is a social promotion association born in the heart of the Sicani mountains, consisting of young residents of Prizzi (Sicily). It was founded in 2019 with the aim to promote the social and economic dynamization of the community and promote culture and traditions.

The objective of the Sikanamente Association is to manage projects such as the application of digital marketing in social networks or other online media, collaborative agreements with other public sector  and private entities, and carry out cultural activities.

One of the goals of the Association is to promote the path on Sicilian roads such as the Magna Via Francigena, the Itinerarium Rosaliae or the Trasversale Sicula similar to Camino de Santiago. The road is located between Agrigento and Palermo, it is 160 kilometers long and for millennia it has been traversed by pilgrims and travelers.

We decided to participate in the MobiliseSME programme in order to exchange ideas because of Galicia’s worldwide famous attraction of Camino de Santiago de Compostela. We had seen this as an opportunity to learn about new methods for promoting tourism and improve online and offline marketing and procedures of the entrepreneurs involved along the way.

MobiliseSME rural tourism

Yoselin, from an SME’s point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your SME? Would you recommend participating in our programme?

The experience I had in Prizzi with the colleagues from the association was very pleasant. Some would be delighted to get to know Galicia and the rural area. We have exchanged ideas to promote activities and tourism through advertising on social networks.

Without a doubt, I would repeat this business experience because it allowed me to open my mind to new ways of promoting the tourism sector, acquiring more knowledge by interacting with colleagues in the area and bring some potential visiting groups to the region of Santiago.

Salvatore, describe the matchmaking process and the preparation of activities with the Sending Company. 

The pairing process began due to a youth exchange between Galicia and Sicily in August 2020 under the Erasmus framework, where Yoselin participated as a trainer in the marketing and business strategy. 

The preparation of activities of the sending company was the following: prior to Yoselin’s visit, the online meeting was held with the representatives of the Sikanamente Association coordinating exchange needs and marketing promotion; also, a face-to-face meeting was organized with the representatives of the Sikanamente Association and the young associates; on the other hand, various activities were carried out in the Prizzi community, exchanging culture and traditions with community residents; finally, visits and meetings with artisan entrepreneurs and shelters were organized.

How did this collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your development, Yoselin?

Acting as a freelancer, I decided to go explore the town of Prizzi and learn about all its cultural richness and work hand in hand with the association’s collaborators, whose purpose is to contribute socially and economically to the municipality.

I am very fortunate to get to know this beautiful culture which hides a lot of history. This project turned out to be able to carry out certain strategies and apply them in the work environment. Promoting tourism in Galicia can help generate greater income and contribute to the economy, as well as advising tourism companies, such as the hospitality industry, to enter into the digital world, apply marketing strategies and become more competitive.

MobiliseSME rural tourism

Salvatore, how did the collaboration with Yoselin contribute to your SME? Would you recommend participating in our programme? 

Her collaboration was important and interesting for Sikanamente. Her online marketing knowledge and her experience as an entrepreneur and advisor with Galician SMEs in the rural sector was a big contribution to the Sikanamente organization.

Likewise, she got involved with young people and encouraged them to participate in Erasmus youth exchanges to improve their employability and also exchanged ideas with small business entrepreneurs – to internationalize brand in the hospitality sector such as hostels, restaurants, travel agencies, and artisans who maintain the culture and tradition of the locality. 

Surely I would repeat the experience. By exchanging ideas and collaborating with the organization we were able to acquire experiences and learn. Our short-term goal is to promote tourism with the involvement of entrepreneurs in the town of Prizzi, with training and resources to provide a good pilgrim service.

At the same time I would recommend to other councils who are part of the pilgrimage path of Sicily to improve their procedures, training and resources to serve pilgrims, for example, in shelters, restaurants, travel agencies, services or others.

And how about you, Yoseline? How do you perceive your contribution? Which functions and responsibilities did you have during the period of collaboration?

During my stay at Prizzi we have provided strategic methods, such as: applying new entertainment methodologies for the new business line of the host company and current clients of my business; sharing ideas on how to improve the marketing of Sicilian cultural heritage. The company located in Prizzi will help in the development of marketing tools, and improve tourism materials by contributing ideas to the association’s participants.

The activity that I developed while in Prizzi was to guide the pilgrims to the tourist areas of the region. The host company will organize entertainment activities – both companies will participate in film clubs, reading groups and photographic exhibitions.

The host company will present its contacts in other EU countries, make a round of presentations and present new services.

SMEs rural tourism

How did the COVID restrictions affect your collaboration? How did you manage to coordinate? 

Traveling to Italy was not so complicated. The only thing that must be done is to respect the protocol of the prevention of COVID-19. The partners took all the necessary measures to avoid infection. The visitors who came to Prizzi had to respect the measures adopted in the municipality and were subjected to antigen tests every week to prevent infections.

Salvatore, do you plan to continue collaborating with the Sending Company after this experience? If yes, how so?

Yes, I plan to collaborate with Yoselin in the future in various activities, such as training for entrepreneurs and knowledge exchange. 

In addition, the organization seems fit to manage the exchange of one of the members of the Sikanamente Association to visit Galicia and to carry out with Yoselin the coordination of new ideas on site, connect and search for partners with other entrepreneurs in the tourism sector, in order to exchange online marketing ideas and strategies for positioning and observe the procedure of the Camino de Santiago and the various activities carried out in Galicia; which helps Sikanamente a lot in obtaining new experiences.

On the other hand, it was also agreed with Yoselin, the return to our community to provide training to rural entrepreneurs and improve marketing such as social networks, web pages, electronic commerce with the aim of covering the international market, and that the Sicilian Way has greater tourism promotion worldwide, since currently there are only Italian pilgrims.

Last but not least, Yoselin, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the European Union after your participation in MobilisSME? Based on your opinion, how our programme may help providing this information, what is its role? 

This international mobility experience was the first time that I was aware of international mobility. The programme has been quite a raising awareness experience about business mobility. Traveling to another country and making agreements and projects with the objective of improving the opportunities of both companies is a great asset for someone that has only a few years of business experience. Participating in MobiliseSME allows you to open your mind and to discover new business horizons.