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The Power Of Lemonade

“Understanding how the marketplace works at a young age absolutely contributes to an increase in understanding as an adult,” explains BizGym Foundation’s executive director Lesley Harvey, who also is the founder and president of Grant Writing & Consulting. “Kids who learn those skills can take advantage of opportunities.”

In addition to the contest, Lemonade Alley features a series of workshops in the weeks leading up to the event. The first step in the series places the kids alongside chefs, to help them concoct their lemonade. Next, they learn how to brand their product. The final workshop teaches them how to pitch their ideas in a clear, concise manner.

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(from left) Gabi Turnbull, Chief Lemon Head Steve Sue, Azaliah Kekuna, Caden Matsumoto, Dean of Awesomeness Kimee Balmilero, Kalaya Ho and Executive Director Lesley Harvey

Sherry Tani explains that her children, daughter Genesis, 10, and son Phoenix, 8, who participated in last year’s Lemonade Alley, liked “the fact that they were the ones who got to do everything … They loved the fact that it was their own idea of how to set up their booth, their own idea of how they wanted to make their lemonade — all of it was their own choice.”

For Valerie Tabura, the program was a way for her to teach daughter Juliana the value of hard work.

“It is really important because they have to realize that in life you are going to have to work hard for things that you want,” Valerie says.

Meanwhile, participant Sara Brekke says that her favorite part of Lemonade Alley was getting to work with her friends on a team.

“I was proud to see her step into a leadership role and watch her gain confidence in herself and her abilities through this program,” adds her mother Sandi.

Across the board, though, both parents and kids feel that raising money for local nonprofits was one of the most valuable parts of their Lemonade Alley experience.

It is that sentiment that’s at the crux of Lemonade Alley — and of BizGym Foundation, which operates with the motto “Profit to Share,” as a whole.

Prior to authoring the BizGym software, Sue had a varied career. With both a bachelor’s in art and a law degree, he carved out a niche as a consultant for a wide range of industries, from hospitality and retail to technology and entertainment.

Over the years, giving back became an important aspect of it all for Sue — and he started sharing his business savvy as an instructor at Iolani School and a mentor at Blue Startups.

“I am in the second half of my life now, and I started realizing things, like giving and thinking about what I can leave for the planet,” he says. “The fun of business is beyond making a buck. The idea of legacy is not enough for me. Legacy could just be like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant because he left a mark. But the more important thing is, did you make other people better, did you sacrifice some of yourself to help someone else?

“So many people think of business from this sinister, mean angle,” Sue continues, “and I have never really seen business that way. I have always seen it as the thing that feeds us and clothes us and provides shelter for us. I wanted to take that a step further and show people that you could combine philanthropy with business.”

“In Lemonade Alley, (the kids) have their end goal of winning … but they also are really moved and excited to be able to (donate),” Harvey adds.

Other than the proceeds the kids garner from their stands, many of the winning teams — which earn $1,000 — also decide to donate their prize money to their charities. Last year’s Lemonade Alley teams raised a total of more than $15,000 for local groups, including Hawaiian Humane Society, Wounded Warriors and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Along that vein, BizGym Foundation is looking toward launching a new program this year: Lemonade Alley Outreach Program, which aims to make the program more accessible to economically disadvantaged families.

“Studies have shown that entrepreneurial skills are positively correlated to increases in employability,” Harvey explains. “Looking at some of the communities we have around the state, that is huge. If more people are able to find employment, that means there is economic growth, that means there is reduction in poverty.”

The next Lemonade Alley contest is slated for April, with workshops starting in March. For more information and to register, visit bizgym.org.