ACORNS - an opportunity for early stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland

AcornsMichael 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”.

After running a very successful pilot, applications for a second funded programme are now being sought.  The programme is 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.
There are 56 places available for 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.

Download the Acorns Brochure here

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.

There were more applications last year than places and interest this year is already very high. 

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 Application forms will be sent to interested applicants immediately. The deadline for receipt of completed applications is Thursday 22 September 2016 and the programme will begin on the 10th October, at the ACORNS residential Development Forum in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

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 Paycheck Plus, (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). 


We were delighted last April that Evelyn Reddin, CEO Laois LEO could address the ACORNS gathering to explain at first hand the information, advice,  training and other supports available from the Local Enterprise Offices. We also included details of the support available from LEOs in the booklet that was published to coincide with the final residential Forum. It is our intention, with your cooperation, to again highlight the support available locally to each of these new entrepreneurs.