After running a very successful pilot, we are now seeking applications for a second 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. Entitled ACORNS - Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups - the programme is focused on unleashing the potential of female entrepreneurs who have recently started a business or who have taken concrete steps towards doing so. I am reaching out to let you know, as you and your members are in a very good position to be able to identify those who could get real benefit from their participation.
We are in a position to offer more places this year and are looking to select up to 56 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.
There is no charge for successful participants, as ACORNS is fully funded under the CEDRA 2015 Rural Innovation and Development Fund through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Successful candidates will also have the costs associated with the residential elements of the programme covered. Michael Creed, TD, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has welcomed the launch of the second year of ACORNS, which he describes as “ a significant opportunity for new female entrepreneurs in rural areas”.
To qualify for consideration, applicants must have set up a new business very recently (no earlier than the 29th of June 2014), which they either own or part-own or be in the advanced stages of starting a business. Those who are not already trading must be actively planning a new venture and have a clear idea of what they want to achieve. 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. If you know a suitable female entrepreneur who might be interested in applying for the ACORNS programme, they can access information and register their interest at www.acorns.ie. Application forms will be sent to interested applicants immediately. The deadline for receipt of completed applications is Thursday 22nd September 2016 and the programme will begin on the 10th October, at the ACORNS residential Development Forum in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Similar to Going for Growth, the ACORNS initiative is based on interactive round table sessions that are facilitated by other female entrepreneurs. All have direct experience of the challenges associated with starting and growing a business in rural Ireland and believe in the philosophy of entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs. Our volunteer ACORNS Lead Entrepreneurs are Alison Ritchie of Polar Ice, (Co. Laois), Anne Cusack of Critical Healthcare, (Co. Westmeath), Anne Reilly of PaycheckPlus, (Co. Louth), Caroline McEnery of The HR Suite (Co. Kerry), Deirdre McGlone of Harvey’s Point (Co. Donegal), Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets (Co. Wexford) and Triona MacGiolla Rí of Aró Digital Strategy (Connemara Gaeltacht, Co Galway). Many of these names will be familiar to you as they had great support from their Local Enterprise Office, or its equivalent, on their entrepreneurial journey.