Final call for new female entrepreneurs

ACORNS is a highly-successful programme supporting female entrepreneurs, living in rural Ireland, who wish to start and develop new businesses.

This Friday, September 20th, is the deadline for early-stage female business entrepreneurs in rural areas to return their completed application forms if they wish to be considered for the latest cycle of development initiative Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups (ACORNS).

Over 200 female entrepreneurs have taken part in ACORNS to date and 50 new participants are being sought for ACORNS 5. The programme will run over six months from October 2019 to April 2020.

The initial call for applications was made last month by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD. ACORNS is a highly-successful programme supporting female entrepreneurs, living in rural Ireland, who wish to start and develop new businesses or have recently started a business. The programme is funded under the Department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

Any woman with a new business based in rural Ireland – or a well-developed idea for a new venture they want to get off the ground – can get more information and register their interest at ACORNS.

ACORNS is based on peer support and collaborative learning. Each participant will have the opportunity to learn from successful female entrepreneurs – ‘lead entrepreneurs’ – who act in a voluntary capacity.

This year, the Lead Entrepreneurs include Alison Ritchie from Polar Ice, Anne Reilly from Paycheck Plus in Louth, Caroline McEnery from The HR Suite based in Kerry and many more. 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.

Discussing the programme, Minister Michael Creed TD said, “The ACORNS programme is a tremendous opportunity for early stage female entrepreneurs in rural Ireland to help them realise their ambitions. I would urge those who have recently started or are about to start a new business to apply to participate in this exciting initiative, as it is an opportunity not to be missed.”

Echoing Minster Creed’s words, Paula Fitzsimons, founder and managing director of Fitzsimons Consulting, the company that developed the ACORNS initiative said, “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.

“I am delighted that the opportunity is being offered once again thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the contribution of the voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs.”

To be eligible for ACORNS, applicants must:

  • Have set up a new business which has generated sales no earlier than the 1st January 2017; or be actively planning a new venture and have made good progress towards getting the new venture off the ground. Indicators of actively planning a business would include organising the start-up team, sourcing equipment / facilities, money saved for the start-up, writing the business plan, etc.
  • They must own or part-own the business which must be located in a rural area, that is in an area outside the administrative city boundaries of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford;
  • They must commit to attending the Launch Forum over two days in October 2019 (14th/15th); the ACORNS Community Forum on 20th and 21st April 2020; the monthly meetings from November 2019 to March 2020; and give the required personal commitment to advancing their business ideas over the six-month programme duration; and
  • They must expect to become an employer within three years.

Got a business idea that needs financial support? Click here for all the help you need.


Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 16 September, 2019