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27/09/2021

Laois female entrepreneurs encourage others to apply for programme to support new rural businesses

Laois female entrepreneurs encourage others to apply for programme to support new rural businesses

Alison Ritchie of Polar Ice

Laois female entrepreneurs are encouraging others from the county to join the latest cycle of ACORNS, a highly-successful development initiative to support early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland.

The call for applications for the latest cycle of the programme — ACORNS 7 — has been launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. 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.

A total of 50 new entrepreneurs will be selected and the free initiative will run over six months from October 2021 to April 2022 with the deadline for applications midnight on September 10, 2021.

Portarlington’s Alison Ritchie, who manages Polar Ice, Ireland’s leading dry ice manufacturer, is serving on the advisory panel and encourages other business women to apply to ACORNS.
Among the 50 new businesses that took part in the last cycle of ACORNS during the Covid-19 pandemic, many changed their career direction completely to establish their businesses.

A desire to make lifestyle changes was a common thread among the participants. Resilience and flexibility – especially during the challenging economic circumstances – was particularly evident. There was great variety and diversity in the new businesses.

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, PaycheckPlus; Caroline Reidy, The HR Suite; Eimer Hannon, Hannon Travel; Larissa Feeney, Accountant Online; Mary B Walsh, Ire Wel Pallets; Norma Dinneen, Bó Rua Farm and Triona MacGiolla Rí, Aró Digital Strategies.

In addition, Monica Flood, formerly Olas IT and a Going for Growth Lead Entrepreneur, will facilitate an ACORNS Plus round table for selected previous participants who are committed to driving forward the growth of their businesses.

ACORNS 7 will run from October 2021 to April 2022 and will include a launch event, six roundtable sessions, an understanding the financials workshop, a briefing by the various development agencies an

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