Tipperary female entrepreneurs urge others to apply for programme that has helped their businesses flourish

  • September 21 deadline to join the latest cycle of ACORNS
  • Government-backed programme to assist 50 new female entrepreneurs in rural locations
  • Past Tipperary participants include Marian Kennedy of A New Mum, Samantha Stuart of Pretty Bowtique and Geraldine Jones of Mediskin

Tipperary female entrepreneurs urge others to apply for programme that has helped their businesses flourish Former Tipperary participant Geraldine Jones of Mediskin Former Tipperary participants of a development programme aimed at female entrepreneurs in rural locations have encouraged others to apply.

Tipperary female entrepreneurs urge others to apply for programme that has helped their businesses flourish Annamarie McNally, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and former Tipperary participant, Marian Kennedy, A New Mum This is the 6th year of the government-backed ACORNS programme which has never been more needed than in the current climate. ACORNS is a highly-successful initiative for early-stage female business owners in rural areas and is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under its Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

A total of 50 new business owners will be selected for ACORNS 6, which will run from October 2020 to April 2021. The deadline for applications is September 21, 2020 and the programme is open to those with new businesses or a well-developed idea for a new venture. (Eligibility criteria in notes below)

There is no charge to selected participants. Tipperary’s Marian Kennedy of A New Mum, Samantha Stuart of Pretty Bowtique and Geraldine Jones of Mediskin are previous participants and active members of the vibrant ACORNS community. All three businesswomen have benefitted from their participation and urge others to apply for the programme. Marian Kennedy of A New Mum says: “A lovely supportive and collaborative community, where people support one another, and we are provided with the most up to date information and supports for our businesses.”

Samantha Stuart of Pretty Bowtique says: “I found that the monthly ACORNS meetings helped me to set and meet targets and step outside my comfort zone. Being around like-minded women who were dedicated to building careers from their small businesses inspired me to push on with my venture.”

Geraldine Jones of Mediskin says: “ACORNS was an invaluable programme which has opened my eyes to several new paths my business can now take. I couldn’t recommend ACORNS enough.” The latter part of the previous cycle of the programme – ACORNS 5 — coincided with the nationwide restrictions to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. This had a severely negative impact on businesses across Ireland and the participants were not immune to their effects. ACORNS immediately moved online, and the final round table sessions and workshops were held remotely.

However, supported by their Lead Entrepreneurs, 75% of ACORNS 5 participants pivoted their business to take account of the changed circumstances and 27% reported a positive impact on their business. ACORNS is based on peer support and collaborative learning and each participant will have the opportunity to learn from successful female entrepreneurs called Lead Entrepreneurs, who have started and grown businesses in rural Ireland. Having successfully completed ACORNS 6, participants will be offered the opportunity to participate in a further development phase and to join the ACORNS Community. This will contribute to ensuring that they continue to reap the benefits of the programme and of the valuable connections they have made through broadening their support network. Acting in a voluntary capacity, this year’s ‘Lead Entrepreneurs’ are: Anne Reilly of Paycheck Plus, Co Louth; Caroline McEnery of The HR Suite, Co. Kerry; Eimer Hannon of Hannon Travel, Co. Meath; Larissa Feeney of Accountant Online, Co Donegal; Triona MacGiolla Rí of Aró Digital Strategies, Co Galway and Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets, Co. Wexford. Fitzsimons Consulting, specialising in entrepreneurship and growth, developed the initiative.

Founder Paula Fitzsimons says:ACORNS is a real grassroots movement, illustrating the strength of peer support, with entrepreneurs supporting one another. Psychological isolation is reduced, confidence is increased, and new networks are formed. This initiative has never been more vital than in the current climate and I am delighted the programme continues to be offered thanks to the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the contribution of the voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs.” Any woman with a new business based in rural Ireland, or a well-developed idea for a new venture they want to get off the ground, can register their interest at www.acorns.ie.   Eligibility Criteria for participation on ACORNS To be considered for ACORNS, applicants must:

  • Have set up a new business which has generated sales no earlier than the 1st January 2018; or be actively planning a new venture and have made good progress towards getting the new venture off the ground. Indicators of actively planning a business would include organising the start-up team, sourcing equipment / facilities, money saved for the start-up, writing the business plan, etc.
  • They must own or part-own the business which must be located in a rural area, that is in an area outside the administrative city boundaries of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.
  • If selected, applicants must be available to attend the virtual launch on the morning of 22 October and the first round table session the following morning. This will take place either in person or remotely, depending on prevailing circumstances and government guidelines.
  • They must expect to become an employer within three years.

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