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Female Sligo entrepreneurs sought for Acorns initiative


Aisling Kelly

Aisling Kelly

Brid Graham

Brid Graham


Aisling Kelly


Sligo female entrepreneurs are urging 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 8 – was launched earlier this month by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue

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. Past participants from Sligo include: Aisling Kelly of WB’s Coffee House and Bríd Graham from Splash Swim School.

WB’s Coffee House in Sligo is a café, gift shop and home of the Sligo Oyster Experience, a walking tour from town to Sligo Bay where visitors take part in live oyster shucking demonstrations and tastings.

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Owner Aisling Kelly was part of the ACORNS 2 programme. “ACORNS did exactly what it says – ‘accelerates’ you and your business. My Lead Entrepreneur and the women in our group were fantastic support and I am so thrilled I got a chance to take part,” she said.

Brid Graham was also on the ACORNS 2 programme. She set up Splash Swim School in Sligo in 2013. Now, almost ten years later, she has a team of ten swimming instructors and runs 138 classes a week across a number of different venues.

Bríd said: “I would recommend ACORNS to anyone starting up a business. We have gained knowledge and confidence since attending our ACORNS sessions and its always great to have a listening ear for the many problems we face.”

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.

For more info see