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HomeFarming NewsRural women entrepreneurs sought for latest ACORNS programme
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Rural women entrepreneurs sought for latest ACORNS programme

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a call for applicants for ACORNS 7.

ACORNS is a highly successful development initiative to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland.

50 new businesses took part in the last cycle of ACORNS during the Covid-19 pandemic, with many changing their career direction completely to establish their businesses.

Over the programme’s-month period, the combined turnover of the overall group doubled from €1.8 million to €3.6 million.

A desire to make lifestyle changes was a common thread among the participants.

Resilience and flexibility – especially during challenging economic circumstances – was particularly evident.

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Free of charge, 6-months  

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.

The DAFM will select a total of 50 new entrepreneurs.

The free initiative will run over six months from October 2021 to April 2022, with the deadline for applications at midnight on September 10th, 2021.

It will comprise:

  • A launch event;
  • Six roundtable sessions, an understanding the financials workshop;
  • A briefing by the various development agencies;
  • An end of cycle celebration.
Voluntary lead entrepreneurs 

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. They give their time free of charge to encourage and support the new business owners.

There is no charge for those participating in ACORNS due to the DAFM’s support and the voluntary contribution of time by the lead entrepreneurs.

This year’s voluntary lead entrepreneurs are:

  • Anne Reilly, PaycheckPlus;
  • Caroline Reidy, The HR Suite;
  • Eimer Hannon,Hannon Travel;
  • Larissa Feeney, Accountant Online;
  • Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets;
  • Norma Dinneen, Bó Rua Farm;
  • Triona MacGiolla Rí, Aró Digital Strategies.

In addition, Monica Flood, formerly Olas IT and a Going for Growth Lead Entrepreneur, will facilitate an ACORNS Plus round table for selected previous participants committed to driving forward the growth of their businesses.

Acorns 7 – Who can apply?  

There is no charge for participation.

To be considered for ACORNS, applicants must:

  • Have set up a new business that has generated sales no earlier than January 1st 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 in a rural area. Must be in 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 11th and 12th,2021. Organisers hope that this can take place in person, subject to prevailing circumstances and government guidelines;
  • They must expect to become an employer within three years;
More information

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 to receive an application form at www.acorns.ie. 

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