Growing up in New Orleans East, Larry Gibbs earned money mowing lawns, shining shoes and delivering newspapers.
"Although those are little things, it teaches you how to use money," Gibbs, founder and CEO of Gibbs Construction, said Monday to a group of young entrepreneurs who were on hand to celebrate the launch of the seventh annual Lemonade Day Louisiana, which is slated for May 6.
"I believe this lemonade effort gives you all of the attributes that you have to have to run a grocery store, to run a construction company," he said.
Lemonade Day is a free community-wide effort that takes place in nearly two dozen states to introduce children to entrepreneurship through the experience of running their own small business: a lemonade stand.
Participants are given a free backpack with detailed workbooks that include marketing tips and advice to help them get started, and they gain valuable experience by setting goals and solving problems.
The goal: to get the kids to spend a little, save a little and share a little, the last part by encouraging them to donate some of their earnings to charity. After covering their costs, the budding business tycoons are encouraged to open a savings account.
Lemonade Day 2017 has lined up more than 30 corporate sponsors, including The Advocate. Last year, more than 20,000 kids participated in the program; this year, organizers expect that number to hit 25,000.
Local business leaders, including John Georges, CEO of Georges Enterprises and owner of The Advocate, were on hand Monday to show their support at the statewide kickoff at the Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans offices.
Georges and Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers, introduced the national program to Louisiana in 2010. Young entrepreneurs first participated in Lemonade Day in 2011.
"There are so many familiar faces in here, which means this program was embraced by the New Orleans community, the children, the families and also the business community," Georges said.
Gibbs is serving as the effort's New Orleans City Champion.
Registration is free and open online at louisiana.lemonadeday.org.