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New initiative launched for rural-based female entrepreneurs

The ratio of male early-stage entrepreneurs to female early-stage entrepreneurs is continuing to narrow in Ireland, thanks largely to the ACORNS initiative.

ACORNS, funded by the department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund, has been designed to support women at the beginning of their enterprise journeys.

More than 200 female early-stage entrepreneurs have been supported to date, with more enterprising women living in rural Ireland receiving the support and guidance needed to take the plunge.

The fifth series of the ACORNS initiative is scheduled to open for women across rural Ireland from October 2019 through to April 2020.

Applications for this series are open until September 20, 2019, with 50 new female participants the target, aiding those looking to start and develop a new business as well as those who have recently started out in business.

The ACORNS initiative will feature a string of ‘Lead Entrepreneurs’, who are successful female entrepreneurs prepared to share their insights and experience in a voluntary role.

The Lead Entrepreneurs will also seek to address the issues and challenges that budding female entrepreneurs face in taking their businesses forward in more remote locations across the country.

Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, said: “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.”

New data from the ACORNS initiative reveals that 850 women are setting up new businesses every month throughout Ireland. This means the rate of emerging female entrepreneurs in Ireland is now the fifth highest in Europe.

Paula Fitzsimons, founder and managing director, Fitzsimons Consulting, 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.”


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