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06 Oct 2022

Scheme to support Longford female entrepreneurs opens

Scheme to support Longford female entrepreneurs opens

Lyndsay Considine, LC Digital, Longford.

Longford female entrepreneur have been urged to apply for a programme to support new rural businesses.

Past Longford participant in the AORNS programme, Lyndsay Considine of LC Digital, has advised others from the county to join the latest cycle of the development initiative to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland.

The call for applications for the latest cycle of the programme — ACORNS 8 — was launched earlier this month by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD ACORNS is funded under the Department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

Programme organisers are looking for female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland, who wish to start and develop new businesses or who have recently started a venture.

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A total of 50 new entrepreneurs will be selected and the free initiative will run over six months from October 2022 to April 2023 with the deadline for applications midnight on September 23, 2022.

This is the eighth year of the ACORNS programme and over 350 female entrepreneurs have taken part to date and a significant proportion of these are still actively involved.

Past participants from Longford include Lyndsay Considine of LC Digital, a digital marketing and social media management company for SMEs and public sector institutions. LC Digital is based in Drumlish, Longford.

Lyndsay says: “ACORNS is a fabulous experience for any businesswoman. The programme has inspired and motivated me to grow my business, while giving me access to a friendly, ambitious network of women across Ireland in every sector imaginable.”

Based on a belief that entrepreneurs learn best from each other, ACORNS is centred on interactive round table sessions facilitated by successful female entrepreneurs who have started and grown businesses in rural Ireland. These are known as ACORNS Lead Entrepreneurs, and they give their time free of charge to encourage and support the new business owners.

There is no charge for those participating in ACORNS, thanks to the continuing support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the voluntary contribution of time by the Lead Entrepreneurs.

This year’s voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs are Anne Reilly, Paycheck Plus; Caroline Reidy, The HR Suite; Deirdre McGlone, Hospitality & Tourism Advisor; Eimer Hannon, Hannon Travel; Larissa Feeney, Accountant Online; Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets; Triona MacGiolla Rí, Aró Digital Strategies.

Charlie McConalogue T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, says: “Now in its eighth year, and going from strength to strength, ACORNS continues to support early stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland. This is an incredible opportunity and a wonderful support for rural-based female entrepreneurs, particularly in the current environment and I encourage those who have recently started or are about to start a new business to apply to participate in this very exciting initiative.

Fitzsimons Consulting, specialising in entrepreneurship and growth, developed the initiative. Founder Paula Fitzsimons explained the focus of the programme: “What the ACORNS participants achieved during the last cycle in challenging circumstances was remarkable – new sales, additional employees, and new exporters. We are delighted that, through the support of the Minister and his Department, we are in a position through ACORNS to continue to support entrepreneurial women in rural Ireland, as they start and develop their businesses.”

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 get more information and register to receive an application form at www.acorns.ie. There is no charge for participation.

ACORNS stands for Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups. It is funded through the Rural Innovation and Development Fund by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). ACORNS was a runner up in the 2018 European Enterprise Promotion Awards, Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills. The programme was developed by Fitzsimons Consulting.

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 end of June 2019 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 launch Forum and first round table session on October 24th and 25th, 2022.

They must expect to become an employer within three years.

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