Young Entrepreneurs Squeeze Life

More than 2,600 kids in and around Houston spent a few hours Sunday afternoon learning how to start and run a small business. As Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports, they were taking part in Houston's first Lemonade Day.

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Lemonade Day in Houston is a project of Prepared 4 Life, a non-profit after school program for middle schoolers run by Michael Holthouse. He says there are too many very bright, capable young people who just don't see opportunities to succeed.

"So we're going into the schools and doing after school programs to help kids understand where are their strengths, and how they can create success out of their lives."

Prepared 4 Life offers 32-week programs that Holthouse says focus on social and emotional intelligence.

"Things like setting goals, a vision for your life, determination, giving up things in the short term for long term. It's the things our parents are supposed to teach us, but frankly are often times so busy that they don't."

Each child who signed up got a workbook on the business involved in setting up a lemonade stand.

"From getting an investor, to what are things you're going to need, doing the purchasing, to taste sampling and deciding your product, where are you going to put your stand. It really looks at the simple concept of a lemonade stand and it breaks it out into all of the business elements from revenue, to expenses to profit. It's unbelievable what they learn in a silly little lemonade stand."

"Lemonade for 25-cents, get your cup of lemonade for 25-cents."

Miguel Zaldivar was hustling up business on East 11th Street in the Heights, just across from Hogg Middle School.

"What I'm doing right now is wearing a poster that says Lemonade Day, and I yelling out so that people passing by on the streets to come buy lemonade."

Lesson learned; advertising is important and keep the message simple.

"Lemonade for 25-cents, you just have to yell out pretty much what you're advertising, lemonade, and how much it costs."

In the 900 block of North Shepherd Gerardo Vasquez was at a stand at the Taqueria Arandas. He put some thought into dressing for success.

"I had to get dressed a lot of time cause I didn't know what to wear."

And he's a hands on businessman.

"I helped squeeze the lemonade for a while."
"Is it good?"
"It's delicious."

A good entrepreneur is always selling.

Prepared 4 Life's Michael Holthouse thinks that we learn best when we experience things. That seems to be the case with Gerardo Vasquez as he thinks about his experience with Lemonade Day.

"Well I think I might learn that little kids can big things although it's sometimes hard."

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