FEMALE entrepreneurs living in rural Limerick are encouraged to apply for a business development course aimed at helping women who are at the early stages of their business journey.
The ACORNS business development programme is a free initiative to support female early-stage entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland.
Running for the past eight years, ACORNS (which stands for Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups) works on the basis that early-stage entrepreneurs learn best from their peers.
Participants interact with each other in the monthly round table sessions, which are facilitated by a Lead Entrepreneur, who has first-hand experience of starting and successfully growing a business in rural Ireland.
100 per cent of participants of last year’s ACORNS programme said that they would recommend the programme to others.
Participants in last year’s programme reported that their turnover almost doubled in the six months to April 2023 – from €1.9m to €3.6m.
Participants in ACORNS 8 employed 96 (55 full-time, 41 part-time) staff at the end of the cycle, an increase of 16. There were also five new exporters over the cycle.
Past Limerick participant of ACORNS, Rita Maunsell of WAWETS, said: “I would urge any woman who is procrastinating over a business idea or business plan to apply for the ACORNS programme. Here you will find lifelong friends, supporters, and cheerleaders.”
The programme is funded through the Department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund, and announcing the applications for this year’s programme, Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said that programmes like ACORNS help to stave off some of the potential loneliness of starting your own business.
“While there are many rewards to being an entrepreneur, it can be a lonely journey with many challenges. To provide support in dealing with these challenges, I am pleased to be able to provide further funding to female entrepreneurs in rural Ireland through the nineth ACORNS programme,” he said.
“This programme will not only help develop businesses, but will provide networking opportunities to participants that may not be as available in rural parts of the country,” the Minister concluded.
Applications for ACORNS close on September 22, and anyone looking for more information can check ACORNS.ie.