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Thirty elementary students recently learned how to start a business when they participated in East Central University’s Junior Business Club.

The three-week academy, sponsored by ECU’s Stonecipher School of Business, guided Ada’s Willard Elementary School students into a business venture of lemonade stands. The students, divided up into six companies, learned how to create a business plan, obtained a loan to start up the business, built and painted their stand and sold lemonade at the Tigers’ home football game on Sept. 9.

“Overall, the experience was wildly successful. The students learned about business and entrepreneurship,” said Wendell Godwin, dean of the ECU School of Business.

According to Godwin, the six companies elected officers and each participant was then given an area of responsibility.

The first order was to see what supplies were needed, particularly to build the stand. So the students made a trip to Home Depot to meet with store manager Brad Stafford to get building supplies. Once that was determined and what was needed to be spent on the supplies to produce the lemonade, the students met with either Vision Bank representatives Chea Christian and Jaylea Thompson or Citizens Bank representatives Holly Grider and Caleb Estes to secure a small business loan. The students had to complete a loan application, sign loan documents and received loans in the range of $125-$240.

During the process, students learned about advertising, record keeping, promotions, how to manage the stands and even spent time at Chartwell’s Food Services on the ECU campus to learn about maintaining the stands and cleanliness. The students, using a recipe from Chic-fil-A, sold fresh-squeezed lemonade, using four cases of lemons, which ultimately produced 60 gallons. They actually sold out of the fresh-squeezed lemonade, according to Godwin.

During the last week of the academy, ECU students Ryan Jolly and Melissa Ellis delivered the F.U.N. Money Financial Literacy Program to the students. This program was sponsored by the ECU chapter of the Student Center for the Public Trust and created by the national accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. This program focused on helping students understand the importance of budgeting, financial responsibility, future careers and the importance of education.

Approximately 200 tickets to the game were distributed to students and families of the Willard students.

Ultimately, the students sold the lemonade from their stands and by moving about throughout the stadium.

The successful venture netted revenue of $1,247.50. The students, who had to log everything spent and every transaction, met a week later to go over their cash drawers, sales registers and bookkeeping.  This year’s team “Legit Lemonade” broke the all-time record for stand sales at $510.00.

Some of the student reactions to the junior business club were: “Great Experience”, “Awesome way to spend time after school”, and “I really learned a lot”. Other comments included: “Shopping at Home Depot was really fun”, and “I thought meeting with real bankers for a loan would be scary, but I was prepared and it was pretty easy.”

The profits went to several areas, including the students themselves who were each paid $5 an hour for three hours of work. The remaining profit was distributed to Willard Grade Center, P.A.W.S. and the Red Cross at $200 each.


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