Organizers of the Lemonade Day Detroit initiative are putting the call out early this year to boost participation in the program that teaches business and entrepreneurship skills to children.
The one-day event, now in its second year in the Detroit area, aims to teach children how to set goals, develop a business plan, establish a budget, seek investors and learn skills like marketing and customer service through the experience of opening up a simple lemonade stand.
Organizers this year are aiming to have 5,000 budding young entrepreneurs like Ricardo Cummings hawk their products around the tri-county area, up from 2,600 in 2011.
Cummings, of Detroit, said he learned about Lemonade Day through his involvement in the Urban League, a nonprofit that promotes education and life skills to youth. The 13-year-old said he wants to one day start his own architecture firm and also wants to earn a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan.
“I know Lemonade Day will help me with my entrepreneurship and things like getting my business started,” he said. “It’ll introduce new things to me that I didn’t know before.”
The program is free and open to children pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Participants can register online and pick up backpacks filled with easy tips, suggestions and other resources at any Art Van Furniture location.
The event is also closely tied to community service: Last year’s event raised more than $150,000 for nonprofits across Southeast Michigan, said Pam Iacobelli, senior vice president and marketing manager of Huntington Bank in Troy, the event’s presenting sponsor. The bank held a media kickoff Wednesday.
New for this year’s event is a Lemonade Day Detroit workshop from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 28 at Second Ebeneezer Church in Detroit. Children and their parents or adult guardians can work with volunteers to build a booth, make a business plan, create a theme and signage and try out lemonade recipes.
Carson Barrette, now 10, opened his Citrus Shark Lemonade Tank stand last year with his brothers, then ages 12 and 5, in front of a grocery market near his home in Macomb County’s Shelby Township. Alongside lemonade, they sold homemade fishing lures that Barrette made with his father.
At the end of the day, the three brothers had made a $123 profit — enough to open up a savings account at the bank.
Lemonade Day Detroit
When: Saturday, June 9
“I wanted them to gain experience on the entrepreneurial side, learn to start their own business from the ground up,” said his mother, Danielle Barrette. “Lemonade’s simple; every kid can relate to it.”
Carson said he’d like to one day open up his own business — possibly a restaurant or live music venue. What did he learn from the experience last year?
“To have fun with it, get along with your brothers, work hard and don’t argue,” Carson said.
Alia Cummings, Ricardo’s 11 year-old sister, has big plans for her career, listing her dreams in descending order as fashion designer, debuting her own line of perfumes and lotions (“I make my own lotions,” she says), dance teacher, or professional singer. She’ll get her first exposure to running a business in June.
“I hope to learn about business,” she said. “I already know a little about business but I would like to learn more and make friends and have fun.”