We talk to female entrepreneurs who are forging innovative businesses in rural Ireland. Today, we talk to Avril McMonagle of Meantóir whose breast cancer diagnosis forced her to take stock of her life and career.
ACORNS alumni Avril McMonagle’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2017 was a life-changing moment.
It forced her to take stock of her life and career. She wanted her next step to be as innovative and creative as possible so did something she had long dreamed about — setting up her own business.
“I have met so many inspiring women in business and being part of a like-minded tribe is a truly powerful place to be”
Meantóir, a specialist support service for early childhood educators and childcare service providers, was established in January 2019 in Inishowen, Co Donegal.
ACORNS is a Government-supported programme designed to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland through a peer learning approach.
Women in rural Ireland with new businesses or at least with well-developed ideas are being invited to join ACORNS 7.The ACORNS programme is designed to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland through a peer learning approach. Thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the voluntary contribution of time by Lead Entrepreneurs, there is no charge for those selected to participate.
Mosaic for success
As an expert in the field of early education, Avril was always a real driver for innovation and change; finding solutions to problems in the sector was something she loved. She is continuing this work with Meantóir.
Avril previously held a number of high-profile education roles, including at the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, where she was part of a small team responsible for Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. She was also Manager at Donegal County Childcare for 14 years.
Meantóir had a stellar first year in business but then Covid hit. Despite challenges, Avril successfully brought all her training online and interest in the company’s app, Mosaic, exploded. Mosaic allows childcare providers to share a child’s early learning and care with their parents in real time.
Avril found ACORNS allowed her time out of the business for thinking space, to hear other people’s experiences, and to know that she was not alone – especially during Covid.
“I was very appreciative of the opportunity to participate in ACORNS 6. I have met so many inspiring women in business and being part of a like-minded tribe is a truly powerful place to be,” says Avril.
While running a business can be tough and worrying, it is also very rewarding. Avril believes it was her best career move ever and is happier in her work than she has ever been.
The call is now open for applicants for ACORNS 7 and 50 female entrepreneurs from across the country will be selected to participate. Anyone interested in receiving an application form ahead of the September 10, 2021 deadline for ACORNS 7 should register their interest here