Time is running out for early-stage female business entrepreneurs in rural areas to apply for the fifth annual Acorns business support initiative.
The latest programme in the series will run over six months from October 2019 to April 2020. The final deadline for applications for this year’s cycle is due to close on today, September 20.
Acorns is funded under the Department Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund.
“This programme is a tremendous opportunity for early stage female entrepreneurs in rural Ireland to help them realise their ambitions,” said Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.
“I would urge those who have recently started or are about to start a new business to apply to participate.”
The programme is open to any woman with a new business, or a well-developed idea for a new venture they want to get off the ground, once they are based in rural Ireland. Each participant will get to learn from voluntary experienced ‘lead entrepreneurs’.
This year’s lead entrepreneurs are: Alison Ritchie, Polar Ice, Laois; Anne Reilly, Paycheck Plus, Louth; Caroline McEnery, The HR Suite, Kerry; Deirdre McGlone, formerly Harvey’s Point Hotel, Donegal; Eimer Hannon, Eimer Hannon Travel, Meath; Mary B. Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets, Wexford; and Triona MacGiolla Rí, Aró Digital Strategies, Galway.
Paula Fitzsimons, founder and managing director of Fitzsimons Consulting, the company that developed the Acorns initiative, thanked the department for its support and the lead entrepreneurs for volunteering their time and expertise.
Ms Fitzsimons said: “The ACORNS programme is critical to assist this growing body of female entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground and on the road to success.
"I am delighted the opportunity is being offered once again thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the contribution of the voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs.”
Many past participants of ACORNS report increased exports and job creation. Progress made by the 46 participants that completed ACORNS 4 (the last cycle), which ran from October 2018 to April 2019, included a combined 43% increase in turnover over the six months.