Female entrepreneurs are on the rise in rural Ireland thanks to ACORNS

13 Aug 2019

Image: © jon_chica/Stock.adobe.com

The fifth series of the ACORNS initiative opens for women in rural Ireland with new business and enterprise ideas.

Women in rural Ireland are embarking on more new business ventures, according to managing director of Fitzsimons Consulting and the driving force behind ACORNS, Paula Fitzsimons.

With the rate of nascent female entrepreneurs in Ireland now ranked fifth across Europe, the increase hasn’t been limited to the country’s major cities, as more women living in rural Ireland are catching the entrepreneurial spirit.

The ACORNS initiative has been successful in supporting women on their enterprise journeys, with over 200 participants to date. The search for entrepreneurs to take part in its fifth instalment, ACORNS 5, was launched this morning by Minister Michael Creed, TD, under the Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

“The ACORNS programme is a tremendous opportunity for early-stage female entrepreneurs in rural Ireland to help them realise their ambitions,” Creed 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. I am delighted to continue to provide support to this initiative through my department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund.”

Assisting acceleration

Last year’s ACORNS 4 demonstrated encouraging outcomes and positive impacts of the programme. Combined turnover for participants was reported at €2.3m, with 13 participants becoming exporters for the first time.

Around 86pc commended the initiative for bringing about practical change within their business and 95pc said they feel nearer to their ambitions having participated. Overall, the rate of early-stage entrepreneurial activity among women in Ireland increased in 2018, while remaining stable for men.

“In most countries more men than women are early-stage entrepreneurs. This is also true in Ireland,” Fitzsimons said.

“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.”

According to Fitzsimons, 850 women are starting a new business every month in Ireland.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021