New ACORNS Programme Seeks Entrepreneurs

17th August 2015

Posted In: FYI
The ACORN launch

Applications are being sought for a new fully funded programme aimed at providing early stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland with the knowledge, support and networking opportunities to advance the development of their businesses.

ACORNS – Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups – is the programme focused on unleashing the potential of female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland who have recently started a business or who have taken concrete steps towards setting up a business.

The programme is dedicated to seeking out and assisting up to 50 start-up female entrepreneurs living in rural areas as defined by CEDRA – the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas. These are all areas of the country outside the administrative city boundaries of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.

As ACORNS is fully funded under the CEDRA 2015 Rural Innovation and Development Fund through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, there is no charge for successful participants.

To qualify for consideration, Applicants must have recently set up a new business (no earlier than the 9th of July 2013), which they either own or part-own. Those who are not already trading must be actively planning a new venture and have a clear idea of what they want to achieve. If they are not already trading, activities such as organising the start-up team, looking for equipment / facilities, saving money for the start-up or writing the business plan would all be considered as active commitments to starting a business.

There is no restriction on the sector in which the new business is focused. However, the selection process is competitive. The deadline for applications from interested candidates is Friday 11th September and the pilot programme will begin on the 30th September, at the ACORNS residential Development Forum in Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

Paula Fitzsimons is the Founder of Fitzsimons Consulting, the company awarded the contract to run the ACORNS programme and which also runs the Going for Growth initiative. She says: “I believe that significant untapped entrepreneurial potential exists among women in rural Ireland and the objective of ACORNS is to equip these early stage entrepreneurs with the appropriate knowledge, confidence and networks to successfully start and develop sustainable businesses. Working with the team of volunteer Lead Entrepreneurs and with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and CEDRA, I am convinced that we can harness that potential for the good of the individuals concerned, their local communities and the wider economy.”

(Pictured L-R: Paula Fitzsimons, Director, ACORNS with Lead Entrepreneurs; Deirdre McGlone, Harvey’s Point, Donegal; Alison Ritchie, Polar Ice, Laois; and Mary B. Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets, Wexford.)

 Female entrepreneurs interested in applying for the ACORNS programme can access information and register their interest at