Louth female entrepreneurs are urging others from the county to join the latest cycle of ACORNS – a highly-successful development initiative to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland.
he call for applications for the latest cycle of the programme — ACORNS 8— was launched earlier this month by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. ACORNS is funded under the Department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund.
Programme organisers are looking for female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland, who wish to start and develop new businesses or who have recently started a venture.
A total of 50 new entrepreneurs will be selected and the free initiative will run over six months from October 2022 to April 2023 with the deadline for applications midnight on September 23, 2022.
This is the eighth year of the ACORNS programme and over 350 female entrepreneurs have taken part to date and a significant proportion of these are still actively involved.
Louth boasts one of the voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs on the programme – Drogheda-based Anne Reilly from Paycheck Plus..
Anne says she is honoured and delighted to be a Lead Entrepreneur again this year.
“I’m delighted to be an ACORNS Lead again this year and look forward to working with another group of amazing female entrepreneurs. The bond that grows within the group from the first meeting is unique to ACORNS and sets the tone for not only the months ahead but for years to come. Despite coming from a range of different sectors and backgrounds the challenges of getting a business off the ground are mostly the same regardless of sector, so the shared learning is hugely helpful. Going through the programme they develop an understanding of the various models and frameworks to help develop their strategy for operations, sales, marketing, management, and financial skills. Being part of ACORNS enables the participants to share experience, tips, advice and support in a safe environment.”
Past participants from Louth include Paula Stapleton of The Makers.
The Makers is a design and craft shop on the main street of Blackrock, Co.Louth. The shop showcases Irish-made work from locally sourced artists and producers.
Paula say the ACORNS programme is a great opportunity for women to learn from and support each other in business.
The openness, generosity of time/experience and knowledge of the Lead Entrepreneurs really is inspirational. The round table sessions were a great benefit to my business. It is so well worth the time investment – which will more than be repaid in your business and yourself.”
Based on a belief that entrepreneurs learn best from each other, ACORNS is centred 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.
There is no charge for those participating in ACORNS, thanks to the continuing support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the voluntary contribution of time by the Lead Entrepreneurs.
This year’s voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs are Anne Reilly, Paycheck Plus; Caroline Reidy, The HR Suite; Deirdre McGlone, Hospitality & Tourism Advisor; Eimer Hannon, Hannon Travel; Larissa Feeney, Accountant Online; Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets; Triona MacGiolla Rí, Aró Digital Strategies.
ACORNS stands for Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups. It is funded through the Rural Innovation and Development Fund by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). ACORNS was a runner up in the 2018 European Enterprise Promotion Awards, Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills. The programme was developed by Fitzsimons Consulting.
To be considered for ACORNS, applicants must:
Have set up a new business which has generated sales no earlier than the end of June 2019 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.
If selected, applicants must be available to attend the launch Forum and first round table session on October 24th and 25th, 2022.
They must expect to become an employer within three years.
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