50 new participants are being sought for ACORNS 5 - the development initiative which supports female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland, who wish to start and develop new businesses or have recently started a business.
Over 200 female entrepreneurs have taken part in ACORNS to date; the programme will run over six months from October 2019 to April 2020 and the deadline for application for this year’s cycle is September 20th, 2019.
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 download an application form here.
Michael Creed TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said: “The ACORNS programme is a tremendous opportunity for early-stage female entrepreneurs in rural Ireland to help them realise their ambitions.”
“Each year, the participants give an overwhelming endorsement of the role ACORNS has played in supporting them to start and develop their businesses.”
More women in business
Paula Fitzsimons, founder and Managing Director of Fitzsimons Consulting - the company that developed the ACORNS initiative - said that the rate of early-stage entrepreneurial activity increased among women in Ireland in 2018, while remaining stable for men.
On average, 850 women are starting a new business every month in Ireland; the rate of nascent female entrepreneurs in Ireland is now ranked 5th across Europe.
“In most countries more men than women are early-stage entrepreneurs; this is also true in Ireland. However, the ratio in Ireland continues to narrow and now stands at 1.6:1 (men to women early-stage entrepreneurs) as more women plan and start new businesses.”
“The ACORNS programme is critical to assist this growing body of female entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground and on the road to success.”
ACORNS is based on peer support and collaborative learning. Each participant will have the opportunity to learn from successful female entrepreneurs - “Lead Entrepreneurs”.
Acting in a voluntary capacity, these Lead Entrepreneurs will share their insights and experience with the group and help the participants to address the issues and challenges they face in progressing their businesses. They also act as role models, illustrating by their actions that it is possible to start and grow a successful business in rural Ireland.
This year, the Lead Entrepreneurs are: Alison Ritchie, Polar Ice, Laois; Anne Cusack, Critical Healthcare, Westmeath; Anne Reilly, Paycheck Plus, Louth; Caroline McEnery, The HR Suite, Kerry, Deirdre McGlone, formerly Harvey’s Point Hotel, Donegal; Eimer Hannon, Eimer Hannon Travel, Meath; Mary B. Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets, Wexford; Triona MacGiolla Rí, Aró Digital Strategies, Galway.
In addition, Monica Flood, formerly Olas IT – a Going for Growth Lead Entrepreneur – will facilitate an ACORNS Plus roundtable for previous participants, who are committed to growing their businesses.
Past participants of ACORNS are also invited to participate in a further development phase and to join the ACORNS Community, so they can continue to build their support network of valuable connections.