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Female Food Entrepreneurs can apply for ACORNS fully funded business initiative

A recently launched ACORNS programme seeks early stage rural based female entrepreneurs in Ireland to participate in fully funded business initiative

Donegal Entrepreneur – Deirdre McGlone, owner of Harvey’s Point Hotel has been announced as one of the Lead Entrepreneurs for programme looking for 50 rural start-up female-led businesses
Deadline for applications is Friday 11 September

Applications are being sought 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 living in rural Ireland who have recently started a business or who have taken concrete steps towards setting up a business. 
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.

Donegal based entrepreneur, Deirdre McGlone, has been announced as one of the Lead Entrepreneurs on the inaugural ACORNS programme. Deirdre McGlone has run Harvey’s Point Hotel located on Lough Eske, Co. Donegal for the last 26 years. Opening with 20 bedrooms, a restaurant and a small team, the hotel has seen phenomenal growth over the years. Today, the hotel boasts 64 suites and has recently launched ‘The Lodge @ Harvey’s Point’, located on the grounds of the hotel for special interest groups.
In January 2015, Harvey’s Point was voted Number One Hotel in Ireland in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for the third successive year. The multi award winning hotel was also ranked No. 8 in Europe and No. 23 in the world. With 120 people employed in Harvey’s Point, Deirdre and her team continue to push the boundaries as an industry leader, keeping hotel standards at the highest level.

The ACORNS initiative is an excellent opportunity for female Food Entrepreneurs 

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. The deadline for applications from interested candidates is Friday 11 September and the pilot programme will begin on the 30th September, at the ACORNS residential Development Forum in Portlaoise, Co. Laois. 

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
They include:
·         Alison Ritchie, Polar Ice, Laois
·         Anne Cusack, Critical Healthcare, Westmeath
·         Anne Reilly, Paycheck Plus, Louth
·         Caroline McEnery, The HR Suite, Kerry
·         Deirdre McGlone, Harvey’s Point, Donegal
·         Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets, Wexford

Known as ‘Lead Entrepreneurs’, these role models will work in a voluntary capacity to facilitate monthly round table sessions with up to eight participants. These will take place once a month over six months and will address enterprise challenges and support participants to consider how best to develop and advance their early stage businesses for sustainability and growth.

Paula Fitzsimons, Deirdre McGlone, Alison Ritchie and Mary B. Walsh at the launch of ACORNS

As past participants of another female entrepreneurship initiative – the Going for Growth programme -all of the Lead Entrepreneurs have first-hand experience of the round table peer learning approach and of its benefits. 

Paula Fitzsimons is the Founder of Fitzsimons Consulting, the company awarded the contract to run the ACORNS programme and which also runs the Going for Growthinitiative. She says:
 “I believe that significant untapped entrepreneurial potential exists among women in rural Ireland and the objective of ACORNS is to equip these early stage entrepreneurs with the appropriate knowledge, confidence and networks to successfully start and develop sustainable businesses.  Working with the team of volunteer Lead Entrepreneurs and with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and CEDRA, I am convinced that we can harness that potential for the good of the individuals concerned, their local communities and the wider economy.” 
A report from the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) contained a recommendation that a Rural Innovation and Development Fund should be developed to support “innovative, small scale pilot initiatives that explore the diverse range of potential identified through the CEDRA process”.

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine provided for the setting up of this fund in his 2015 budget allocation and, commenting on the ACORNS programme, he says: “I am delighted that this initiative is getting underway. Job creation is a huge focus for this Government and I hope that by targeting female entrepreneurs, who are currently under represented in start–up enterprises, that we can increase the level of business and employment generation in rural areas”

Minister of State for Rural Affairs,  Ann Phelan TD, who is responsible for the implementation of the CEDRA Report,  says that this CEDRA initiative aims to encourage a stronger level of enterprise development in rural areas and adds “Rural women’s entrepreneurship clearly represents an untapped potential and can contribute significantly to our economic growth. For many rural women, entrepreneurship is part of a broader livelihood strategy, often undertaken initially on a part-time basis. Emerging businesses need support to flourish. I am a strong believer in the value of mentors and in the importance being able to turn to experienced and trusted advisors from a variety of industries for advice and support”. 

Female entrepreneurs interested in applying for the ACORNS programme can access information and register their interest at
Application forms will be sent back to interested applicants immediately.

The closing date for the receipt of completed applications is Friday, 11 September 2015


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