INNISFAIL – There was a wave of new entrepreneurs in town this past weekend.
Nine of them.
And all of them hoping to be the best of the best for the town’s future business community.
On Sept. 4 the town had is first Lemonade Day, which was modelled from a free community-wide educational program created by American entrepreneur Michael Holthouse in 2007. His program has a mission to inspire today’s youth to become the business leaders, social advocates, community volunteers and forward-thinking citizens of tomorrow.
Now held annually in dozens of North American communities, the program teaches kids how to start, own and operate their businesses through a strategic 14-step process and with the simplest of entrepreneurial vehicles – a lemonade stand.
This past weekend it was Innisfail’s turn and local members of Lemonseed; which created Innisfail’s Lemonade Day and is a non-profit organization committed to empowering, educating and mentoring local entrepreneurs, are hailing its success, especially for the stands set up on Main Street to coincide with the Innisfail Annual Rotary Rodeo Parade.
“It was inspiring to see the community support these young entrepreneurs,” said Darcy Blair, an associate broker and manager at RE/MAX real estate central alberta, and member of Lemonseed. “The youngsters made an effort to differentiate themselves through creating their stands, making different flavours of lemonade, and some even had cookies, baking and candy for sale.
“We also saw a few stands that advertised giving a portion of their earnings back to local charities which was great to see,” he added. “Overall, it was amazing and we are already looking forward to Lemonade Day next year.”
Eleven-year-old Olivia Lutes of Red Deer, who set up her Lemonade stand at Banker’s Corner outside Blair’s RE/MAX office as well as her mother Amy’s at The Place to Mortgage, said she decided to participate in the event because she’s already considering entrepreneurship as a career and there are many skills to learn.
“There’s a lot of planning, and the math to plan everything out for the money,” said Yutes, who added candies and cookies to her lemonade offering.
Local businessman Dale Dunham, who is a member of the local Lemonseed group, said the first-ever initiative showed a “wonderful entrepreneurial spirit” among the participating kids. He said it was an “interesting concept” to have the event coincide with the local parade.
“With the concentration of people in that area it definitely lends itself to having higher sales than having them spread out throughout town. It worked really well together,” said Dunham.
He said he also liked the idea behind the concept of young entrepreneurs learning the value of giving a portion of their profits back to the community, either to a non-profit organization or a worthy cause.
“The idea behind that will help those kids develop an understanding of giving, donating or working together and giving back something. It’s the whole idea behind social entrepreneurialship,” said Dunham.
And so it was for Sullivan Robin, 9, and his seven-year-old sister Nona who set up their lemonade stand on Main Street in front of The Gift Loft.
They not only want to become entrepreneurs but also give back to a worthy cause. The pair are giving 10 per cent of their earnings to the Red Cross to help victims of forest fires.
“My aunt lives in B.C. and there are so many fires there,” said Sullivan, adding her aunt’s partner is a firefighter for a fire department in Blind Bay, B.C. “They’ve been having to feed them (victims) and help people get new places to stay when they are put out because of the fires.”
Jean Barclay, who is also one of the founding Innisfail members of the local Lemonseed group, said the organization will be celebrating this year’s best Lemonade Day entrepreneur in the near future at The Coffee Cottage.