24th August 2015

ACORNS – Rural Start-Ups

I am delighted to tell you that we are now seeking applications for a new fully 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.


ACORNS is dedicated to seeking out and assisting up to 50 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.


As ACORNS is fully funded under the CEDRA 2015 Rural Innovation and Development Fund through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, there is no charge for successful participants. Their costs at the residential elements of the programme are also covered.


I attach our brochure for your information.


To qualify for consideration, applicants must have recently set up a new business (no earlier than the 9th of July 2013), which they either own or part-own. Those who are not already trading must be actively planning a new venture and have a clear idea of what they want to achieve. If they are not already trading, 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 Friday 11 September 2015 and the pilot programme will begin on the 30th September, at the ACORNS residential Development Forum in Portlaoise, Co. Laois.


Similar to Going for Growth, the ACORNS initiative will consist of interactive round table sessions that are facilitated by other female entrepreneurs who have started and successfully grown businesses in rural Ireland and believe in the philosophy of entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs. Our volunteer  Lead Entrepreneurs for the pilot programme are Alison Ritchie of Polar Ice, (Portarlington, Co. Laois), Anne Cusack of Critical Healthcare, (Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath), Anne Reilly of Paycheck Plus, (Dunleer, Co. Louth), Caroline McEnery of The HR Suite (Tralee, Co. Kerry), Deirdre McGlone of Harvey’s Point (Lough Eske, Co. Donegal) and  Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets (Gorey, Co. Wexford).


If you have any queries about the application process or about ACORNS more generally, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Kind regards,



Paula Fitzsimons



6 James’s Terrace


Co. Dublin

K36 Y972



Tel: +353 1 845 0770

Mobile: +353 87 277 4385



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