Final call for new female entrepreneurs in rural areas

Charlie McConalogue, Secretary of State for Agriculture, Food and Marine Conservation photographed with Niamh Dooley of BiaSol, a former ACORNS program participant.

This Friday (23 September) is the final deadline for young rural women entrepreneurs to apply for the latest cycle of the ACORNS business development initiative.

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

The call for new entrants was launched last month by Agriculture, Food and Marine Secretary Charlie McConalogue and former BiaSol entrant Niamh Dooley, who is from Ballykeeran, Athlone, but runs the grocery store with her brother Ruairi of Church Road, Tullamore , started .

So far there has been a lot of interest in the tender, reflecting the high proportion of enterprising women in rural Ireland. However, interested parties still have time to apply for ACORNS. Don’t hesitate, because the closing date is getting closer!

A total of 50 new entrepreneurs will be selected from the applicants, but applications must be completed and submitted by midnight on Friday 23 September.

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

More than 350 women entrepreneurs have participated in ACORNS so far and a significant number are still actively involved.

Combined revenue for the 48 companies that completed ACORNS 7 increased over the cycle from €1.5 million in October 2021 to €3.1 million by April 2022. The firms involved also increased their combined workforce over the course of the cycle Cycle from 94 to 116 (19%). Boosting 22 new jobs in rural Ireland.

Any woman with a new business in rural Ireland – or a new business idea she would like to start – can visit for more information and to register to receive an application form. (eligibility criteria in notes below)

Based on the belief that entrepreneurs learn best from each other, ACORNS focuses on interactive roundtable sessions moderated by successful women entrepreneurs who have started and grown businesses in rural Ireland. Known as ACORNS Lead Entrepreneurs, these volunteer their time for free to encourage and support the new business owners.

This year’s Volunteer Lead Entrepreneurs are Anne Reilly, formerly of Paycheck Plus; Caroline Reidy, The HR Suite; Deirdre McGlone, Hospitality and Tourism Consultant; Bucket Hannon, Hannon Travel; Larissa Feeney, Online Accountant; Mary B. Walsh, Irish Wel Pallets; Triona MacGiolla Rí, Aró Digital Strategies.

Fitzsimons Consulting, specializing in entrepreneurship and growth, developed the initiative.

Founder Paula Fitzsimons says, “ACORNS 7 has demonstrated exactly the kind of results that can be achieved when entrepreneurs participate in our program. 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 help entrepreneurial women in rural Ireland grow their businesses.”

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

ACORNS stands for Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups. You can apply here:

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