01 Oct 2022

Kildare female entrepreneurs urge others to apply for latest ACORNS programme

Kildare female entrepreneurs urge others to apply for latest ACORNS programme

Edel Hayes, Accelerate Accounting, was on ACORNS 7. Pic Supplied.

Kildare female entrepreneurs are urging others from the county to join the latest cycle of the Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups (ACORNS) initiative.

ACORNS supports early-stage female entrepreneurs living in rural Ireland and was developed by Fitzsimons Consulting.

The call for applications for the latest cycle of the programme — ACORNS 8— was  launched earlier this month by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD. 

Past participants from Kildare include Caroline Cullen of The Roots Ireland and Edel Hayes from Accelerate Accounting. 

Caroline Cullen founded the The Roots Ireland, which produces contemporary, handcrafted sterling silver jewellery, from her home in Leixlip.


Commenting on the impact ACORNS has had on her company, she said: "Being part of ACORNS has been invaluable for my business.

"The peer support from other female business owners on the same journey as you is fantastic, as well as all the knowledge and experience of the Lead Entrepreneur... to be able to drill down on challenges you are facing and come up with solutions together has been an amazing support.

"(I am) delighted to be part of the ACORNS community."

Edel Hayes, who set up Accelerate Accounting, a virtual accountancy firm dedicated to supporting SMEs, was on ACORNS 7.

Speaking about her experience, the Kildare town native said: "ACORNS has changed how I view my business and the way I run it as a business owner.

"It has focused my attention and energy, and made me take quicker action to get things done," she added.


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 2022 to April 2023 with the deadline for applications midnight on September 23, 2022.

This is the eighth year of the ACORNS programme and over 350 female entrepreneurs have taken part to date and a significant proportion of these are still actively involved.

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.

There is no charge for those participating in ACORNS.

This year’s voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs are Anne Reilly of Paycheck Plus, Caroline Reidy, The HR Suite of Deirdre McGlone, Hospitality & Tourism Advisor Eimer Hannon of Hannon Travel, Larissa Feeney of Accountant Online, Mary B Walsh of Ire Wel Pallets, and Triona MacGiolla Rí of Aró Digital Strategies. 

Founder of Fitzsimons Consulting, Paula Fitzsimons, also praised the ACORNS scheme: "What the ACORNS participants achieved during the last cycle in challenging circumstances was remarkable... new sales, additional employees, and new exporters.

"We are delighted that, through the support of the Minister and his Department, we are in a position through ACORNS to continue to support entrepreneurial women in rural Ireland, as they start and develop their businesses."

Any woman with a new business based in rural Ireland — or a well-developed idea for a new venture they want to get off the ground — can find more information and register to receive an application form at  

There is no charge for participation. 

For more information or to interview the Director, any of the Lead Entrepreneurs or any past participants, contact Martha Kearns at StoryLab on +353 87 2720212.

ACORNS is funded under the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine's Rural Innovation and Development Fund.

To continue reading this article,
please subscribe and support local journalism!

Subscribing will allow you access to all of our premium content and archived articles.


To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.