Final call for new female entrepreneurs in rural areas to apply for free ACORNS development initiative


This Friday (September 23) is the final deadline for early-stage female entrepreneurs in rural areas to apply for the latest cycle of the ACORNS business development initiative.

This is the 8th year of the Government-backed ACORNS program, which is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, under its Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

A total of 50 new entrepreneurs will be selected from those who apply but applications have to be completed and submitted by midnight on Friday, September 23.

The ACORNS 8 program is completely free to those selected to participate and will run over six months from October 2022 to April 2023.

More than 350 female entrepreneurs have taken part in ACORNS to date and a significant portion are still actively involved.

Combined turnover for the 48 companies who completed ACORNS 7 increased over the cycle from €1.5m in October 2021 to €3.1m by April 2022. The firms involved also increased their combined workforce over the cycle from 94 to 116 (19%), an increase of 22 new jobs in rural Ireland.

Any woman with a new business based in rural Ireland — or an idea for a new venture they want to get off the ground — can get more information and register to receive an application form at www.acorns.ie. (Eligibility criteria in notes below)

Based on a belief that entrepreneurs learn best from each other, ACORNS is centered on interactive round table sessions facilitated by successful female entrepreneurs who have started and grown businesses in rural Ireland. These are known as ACORNS Lead Entrepreneurs, and they give their time free of charge to encourage and support the new business owners.

This year’s voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs are Anne Reilly, formerly Paycheck Plus; Caroline Reidy, The HR Suite; Deirdre McGlone, Hospitality & Tourism Advisor; Eimer Hannon, Hannon Travel; Larissa Feeney, Accountant Online; Mary B Walsh, Ire Well Pallets; Triona MacGiolla Rí, Aró Digital Strategies.

Fitzsimons Consulting, specializing in entrepreneurship and growth, developed the initiative. Founder Paula Fitzsimons says: “ACORNS 7 demonstrated exactly the kind of results that can be achieved when entrepreneurs take part in our programme. Participants in last year’s cycle doubled sales, created new jobs, and expanded their professional networks. We thank the Minister and his Department for their support as we continue to provide a helping hand to entrepreneurial women in rural Ireland as they pray to develop their business.”

ACORNS 8 will run from October 2022 to April 2023 and will include a launch event, six roundtable sessions, an understanding the financials workshop, a briefing by the various development agencies and an end of cycle celebration.

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