Kerry’s Female Entrepreneurs Wanted For ACORNS Programme

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Acorns Seminar at Portlaoise Heritage Hotel

Ann Derwin, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with Denise Bourke (Right) of Divas and Dude pictured at the Acorns Seminar at Portlaoise Heritage Hotel.

AN initiative aimed at early stage rural based entrepreneurs is looking for Kerry-based female entrepreneurs to apply for a programme which has already helped Kerry businesswomen.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD welcomed the launch of the second year of “ACORNS”, a six month part time development programme for aspiring rural female entrepreneurs.

Denise Bourke of Divas and Dudes and Martina Walsh of have already taken part and recommend women to get involved.

Speaking about her involvement last year, Denise Bourke commented: “I would highly recommend this programme.  It has provided me with expert knowledge, support and financial insights for which I am very grateful.” While Martina Walsh from said, “My confidence in my business/self has gone from wobbly to “sure and steady”.

Acorns Seminar at Portlaoise Heritage Hotel

Ann Derwin, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Martina Walsh (right) of knit at the Acorns Seminar at Portlaoise Heritage Hotel.

Caroline McEnery from the HR Suite in Tralee is also confirmed as one of this year’s Lead Entrepreneurs. As a Lead Entrepreneur, Caroline will share her expertise and experience with ACORNS participants.


Fully funded under the Department’s CEDRA Rural Development and Innovation Fund, the initiative is focused on developing 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. There is no charge for successful applicants.

A core element of the ACORNS initiative is the involvement of ‘Lead Entrepreneurs’, who have already started and successfully grown businesses in rural Ireland. These business women, on a voluntary basis, facilitate the interactive round table sessions, act as role models and mentor the successful applicants.

Last year 44 entrepreneurs completed the pilot ACORNS programme, with all participants reporting that participation in ACORNS was of value to their business.

· Eight businesses began to trade for the first time during the pilot

· Of the 35 trading, 86% increased their combined sales by 43% during the pilot

· 10 participants made export sales during the pilot, including five for the first time

· Participants increased their total number of employees by 13%

The pilot participants expect to achieve significant further growth in sales, employment and in the number of exporters by the end of 2016. They are being offered the opportunity of further ACORNS support to assist them to achieve their ambitious targets.

The deadline for application for this year’s ACORNS programme is Thursday, September 22, 2016. Interested female entrepreneurs can access information and register their interest at The programme takes place on selected days from October 2016 to April 2017.

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