Entrepreneurship Students Mentor Community Youth
Dedicated to service-learning, Dillard College partnered management students with elementary school-age children during Lemonade Day, a national youth entrepreneurship program.
Call to Action
“To whom much is given, much will be required.” This timeless and weighty imperative remains salient today for individuals and businesses alike. Even though most college students have limited financial resources to give back, they do have a precious resource—time—that they are encouraged to give back to the community each spring semester through their participation as a mentor during Wichita Falls’ annual Lemonade Day.
Lemonade Day is an experiential learning program that teaches children, primarily in the third- to fifth-grade age range, how to start, manage, and operate their own small business, a lemonade stand. In participating cities around the nation, children experience entrepreneurship by setting up their lemonade stands during their city’s communitywide Lemonade Day. Participants learn about personal responsibility, financial literacy, planning, goal setting, teamwork, and service beyond self.
America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Midwestern State University (MSU) Texas first implemented the Lemonade Day project in Wichita Falls in May 2016. Unfortunately, they were close to discontinuing the project after the first year because they struggled to find mentors who could help the children hone their entrepreneurial skills.
Scott Manley, director of the Lalani Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise, stepped in to fill this gap in the spring semester of 2017, committing his students to this valuable service-learning project. Each year, during the months leading up to Lemonade Day, students in the Entrepreneurship and Management of Small Enterprises course work with at-risk youth in the area to set goals, make a plan, and work the plan.
At multiple student events, developed in conjunction with educators and parents from various local grade schools, MSU Texas college students cover the Lemonade Day curriculum with their young entrepreneurs.
First, each child is challenged to set goals and create a plan for their business. Whatever the goal, Manley’s students teach the Lemonade Day curriculum to the children. Unsurprisingly, Lemonade Day's lessons are relatively simple, but they closely mirror the concepts that the entrepreneurship students are learning in their college coursework. The items covered by the entrepreneurship students with their mentees include:
- How to make a business plan
- How to create a budget
- How to brand and advertise
- How to find investors
- How to create and produce the product
- How to manage the business when open
Once the young entrepreneurs develop a business plan for their company, they can then present their plan to Texoma Community Credit Union, the local initiative's financial sponsor, to obtain microloans of up to 50 USD to serve as seed capital for the fledgling ventures. This eliminates any potential financial burden on the families or guardians of the at-risk youth participating in the program.
During this process, the college students were required to:
- Teach their young students' goal-setting and business concepts
- Encourage their students
- Model effective team-working skills
- Attend meetings and Lemonade Day events
- Reflect on their experience as one of their module assignments
During the most recent Lemonade Day, in April 2019, 350 children operated 60 lemonade stands around the area. At the event’s “after party,” the children repaid their microloans. In an unexpected twist, the loans were forgiven and matched dollar-for-dollar by the credit union if the children opened a savings account. This helped cement the financial principles learned throughout the program.
What sounds like a small micro-business can accomplish amazing things, as some of the more successful stands grossed over 1,000 USD in a single day! Not surprisingly, these young entrepreneurs often donate not just part but all of their profits to nonprofit organizations such as local animal rescues.
One of MSU Texas’ youth entrepreneurs, nine-year-old Aleese Haile, was named first runner up for Youth Entrepreneur of the Year. In part, Haile was recognized because she had obtained copyright protection for her logo, contracts for her employees, and multiple locations. Although she is obviously an exemplar of the program, Haile’s success demonstrates the impact of the program.
In a recent national study of Lemonade Day’s impact, 72 percent of the youth entrepreneurs stated that they plan to start their own business one day, while 64 percent of the participants believe that they will one day invent something that changes the world. Eighty percent of respondents said they can find lots of ways around any problem, and a surprising 31 percent of respondents are already running their own businesses!
Meanwhile, MSU’s entrepreneurship students were first-class university ambassadors, and their community interaction gave them a valuable learning experience.