America is built on the hard work of entrepreneurs and small-business owners. And typically those with the entrepreneurial bug start young — whether by mowing lawns, raking grass, or, a dog days of summer staple, running a lemonade stand.
“Isn’t that lemonade stand really your first business?” asks Stephanie Sievers, CEO of ANECA Federal Credit Union ($94.2M, Shreveport, LA).
CU QUICK FACTS
Data as of 06.30.16
HQ: Shreveport, LA
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: -4.94%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 16.57%
In 2010, two local entrepreneurs started Lemonade Day Louisiana — a spinoff of a national program — with the intention to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in local children (ages 4-18). Each child registers online and receives a backpack with an Entrepreneur Workbook that teaches them lessons including creating budgets, serving customers, and giving back to the community.
“My kids always have the entrepreneur bug and when they want to buy something, like candy or whatever, they take it upon themselves to have a lemonade stand,” Sievers says. “So when I learned about Lemonade Day Louisiana I thought ‘What a wonderful program. Let’s get behind this.’”
Lemonade Day Louisiana was held on April 30 this year, but the credit union wanted to start things a little earlier. A week before Lemonade Day the Shreveport Regional Art Council held its annual ArtBreak event, the largest student arts festival in the southern U.S. At ArtBreak, ANECA invited kids who had already signed up for Lemonade Day to a lemonade tasting. A panel of judges, including Sievers herself, tasted the young business people’s offerings and the awarded a trophy to the best lemonade.
More than 20,000 children signed up for Lemonade Day Louisiana in 2016. ANECA spent a few weeks before the event going around to local schools and appearing on local news stations trying to spread the word further, and reminding kids to not only sign up online but to register their stands as well.
By registering their stands, the credit union would publicize the location to its Facebook followers to help drive business to the young entrepreneurs.
“I don’t know if you’ve run a lemonade stand but it’s no fun if no one comes to buy anything from it,” Sievers says.
In addition to driving business to the stands, ANECA also provided “startup capital” to the few hundred young entrepreneurs who visited its main office — one gallon of water and a Mason jar of powdered lemonade.
“We’re a credit union and we do business loans, but you cannot give a child a business loan,” Sievers says with a laugh.
The credit union sent out employees to visit each stand that had been registered in the Shreveport area, taking pictures and chatting with the kids in charge. And Sievers was impressed. Many of the kids were savvy with where they set up shop, whether it was outside a Kroger or a high-traffic gas station.
When life (and ANECA) gave these kids lemons, they made lemonade.
And while only one participant could win the coveted entrepreneur of the year award, all ended up winners. Participants all made money from their lemonade sales, but it’s what they chose to do with their income that really surprised Sievers.
“Some were just raising money to donate it,” she says. “You have children out there in the Louisiana heat all day, selling lemonade, and giving 100% of their profits away. Isn’t that great?”
Sievers is already thinking and talking about Lemonade Day 2017. She would like to increase the number of participants who register their stand locations; that way, the credit union can visit and drive business to even more stands. However, more education is required.
In Louisiana, children need a certificate from the state to show they are licensed to do business. That’s because “we have litigation on whether or not children need to file taxes on their lemonade stand dollars,” the ANECA CEO says.
So when children enroll for this license from the state, they also need to register their stand location. It’s a dual enrollment system that Sievers would like to see collapsed into a single registration process. Still, the credit union is happy to work with anyone who wants the help. Sievers has seen firsthand what this kind of program can do for children.
Lemonade is an easy concept that they can understand. My oldest is talking to an 8-year-old about why he put strawberries in his lemonade. That's a legitimate business conversation they've having. It's great to see.
This year her kids didn’t operate a lemonade stand. Instead, they tagged along with her as she went around the city to taste lemonade and see the stands. Her kids wanted to be the ones to buy and taste the lemonade, as well as talk to the various participants about the product and what they plan to do with their profits.
“Lemonade is an easy concept that they can understand,” she says. “My oldest is talking to an 8-year-old about why he put strawberries in his lemonade. That’s a legitimate business conversation that they’re having. It’s great to see.”