New mentoring scheme for rural entrepreneurs
FEMALE entrepreneurs living in rural parts of Wicklow are being encouraged to apply for the next round of the ACORNs initiative.
ACORNS (Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups) is a peer-to-peer learning programme for female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland, who wish to start new businesses or have recently started a business.
The call for applications follows the launch of the programme on Tuesday, August 13 by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD. ACORNS is funded under the Department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund.
Minister Creed said: ‘The ACORNS programme is a tremendous opportunity for early stage female entrepreneurs in rural Ireland to help them realise their ambitions. I would urge those who have recently started or are about to start a new business to apply to participate in this exciting initiative, as it is an opportunity not to be missed. Each year, the participants give an overwhelming endorsement of the role ACORNS has played in supporting them to start and develop their businesses. I am delighted to continue to provide support to this initiative through my Department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund.’
Over 200 female entrepreneurs have taken part in ACORNS to date and 50 new participants are being sought for ACORNS 5. The programme will run over six months from October 2019 to April 2020.
Paula Fitzsimons, founder and Managing Director of Fitzsimons Consulting, the company that developed the ACORNS initiative said, ‘in most countries more men than women are early-stage entrepreneurs. This is also true in Ireland. However, the ratio in Ireland continues to narrow and now stands at 1.6:1 (men to women early stage entrepreneurs) as more women plan and start new businesses. 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 that 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.’
Based on peer support and collaborative learning, each participant will have the opportunity to learn from successful female entrepreneurs.
Acting in a voluntary capacity, these lead entrepreneurs share their insights and experience with the group and help the participants to address the challenges they face in progressing their businesses. They also act as role models, illustrating by their actions that it is possible to start and grow a successful business in rural Ireland.
Many past participants of ACORNS report increased exports and job creation.
The deadline for application is Friday, September 20. For more information including the application criteria, visit www.acorns.ie.