Rural female entrepreneurs have doubled their business revenues through the support of ACORNS, a rural business development scheme.
The ACORNS (Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups) programme has highlighted its success by achieving over 100% growth in turnover with its latest participant group.
The group of early-stage female entrepreneurs doubled their combined turnover from €1.5m to €3.1m in six months and saw staffing climb by 19%, creating 22 new jobs in rural Ireland.
Applications are now open for 50 new female entrepreneurs in rural areas with new businesses – or well-developed ideas – to join the Government-backed programme which is now in its eighth year.
The six-month programme will run from October 2022 to April 2023.
Paula Fitzsimons, founder and director, ACORNS said: “What the ACORNS participants achieved during the last cycle in challenging circumstances was remarkable – new sales, additional employees, and new exporters."
The scheme receives over 240 completed applications annually for the fifty places available. Therefore, applicants are chosen on a competitive basis.
The scheme will provide female entrepreneurs with knowledge, support and networking opportunities to allow them to fulfil their business goals.
Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said: “Over 350 female entrepreneurs have taken part in ACORNS to date and a significant proportion of these are still actively involved. The progress made by participants in previous years has been remarkable, with many reporting increased sales, exports and job creation."
Over 200 female entrepreneurs who have previously successfully completed the cycle are still involved in the ACORNS community through participating in ACORNS Plus, as well as attending topic-based workshops and networking opportunities.
Larissa Feeney, founder and chief executive of Accountant Online and one of the lead entrepreneurs from this year's ACORNS, said: “Starting a new business may seem like a lonely road. It is so important to realise that you are not alone in the challenges that you are facing as an early-stage entrepreneur and that your problems are not unique."
Ms Feeney continued: "The ACORNS round tables really help here in building confidence, motivation and sharing insights. While the businesses are all different, the issues that they encounter are often similar.”