If a frozen pond is where kids fell in love with hockey then one can only imagine how many of tomorrow’s business leaders had their start at the corner lemonade stand.
Students in the Ivey Business School’s HBA program will have the chance to build upon those entrepreneurial dreams over the next several days as they take part in the annual Hunter Straker and Ivey Give LemonAid fundraiser. The challenge, which runs April 9-11 and supports the United Way of London & Middlesex, is the final event of the HBA1s’ Learning Through Action program.
Jesse Richardson was one of the 601 students taking part in the launch on Tuesday (April 9). Richardson and the others will be divided into approximately 80 teams and sent out across the city to see how they can make practical use of the skills they have picked up in the classroom.
“We have learned so much in this first year at Ivey. This takes us back to our roots back home in primary school selling lemonade,” said Richardson. “It is a really unique way to raise money for charity. I think selling lemonade is probably an easy thing to do, but you can do it in so many different ways and that is what makes it exciting.”
Palmer Taylor was another of the students attending the launch ceremony at the BMO Financial Group Auditorium. Taylor said The LemonAid fundraiser is so unique because it takes something so simple and forces students to utilize everything they have learned.
Those skills will be challenged throughout the event, particularly as each team will have to overcoming a challenge created by executives at Hunter Straker. Those challenges could range from not being given the $50 in seed money each team receives to having to fire some of their teammates or even being forced to sell lemonade without being given any lemons.
Matthew Diamond, senior vice-president Hunter Straker and a 1996 Ivey graduate, said he always felt the greatest gift he could give is to inspire people to make change. Since he wasn’t going to do that in the medical world, he figured he could do it through an educational institution.
Since Ivey’s platform is “about learning through action,” Diamond said the LemonAid is a great combination of doing good, taking the learning from first year into action and getting students into the field with probably the most basic of businesses, selling lemonade.
“It speaks to everything they have learned. Then each has that twist, simulating a real life challenge,” Diamond said. “Maybe you can’t actually sell the lemonade, maybe you have to split up the team, it is about taking their learning, dealing with a real issue that could arise in the business world, and see how they deal with it.”
While the students will learn how to overcome business challenges, Diamond said the LemonAid also provides important insight into the obligations that extend past simply making money.
Diamond said the students should “feel great” knowing business can do good in the world, create change. “This is a great way to show it isn’t just about bottom line profit, in the business world, you have to give back.”
Mary Heisz, faculty director Ivey HBA program, said that was one of the key reasons LemonAid was launched four years ago.
“It seems like an odd thing, but it is a great group of community minded students and it is fun,” Heisz said. “It allows them to give back into the London community, use their skills. It really does work, but it also shows the importance of being part of a community.
In its first year, 2011, students raised $31,000 through LemonAid. That total climbed to $42,000 the following year before rocketing to $108,000 in 2013. With $181,000 raised for United Way’s Innovation Fund in just three years, Heisz said the students have had a direct impact on the community.
Kelly Ziegner, communications director for United Way London & Middlesex, was obviously excited by that total as well. But just like Diamond and Heisz, Ziegner said her support of LemonAid extends beyond the financial.
“It excites me we partner with Ivey on this program because I have 600 brand ambassadors who will go out into the community and share the story of United Way,” Ziegner said. “I could never afford that on my budget. So I am happy to have your support in telling the story of what United Way does.”
Heisz said this group of students lives in the community of London and so LemonAid gives them the opportunity to do something “really cool” for that community. Business is about more than just raising money for a company, or even themselves, Heisz said, adding it is about being part of something bigger.
Diamond agreed, adding he is more than little envious of the students attending Ivey today.
“I wish I could go back in time. I am really proud of the fact Ivey continues its legacy,” Diamond said. “If this is my little dent in the Ivey universe, in the charitable and social change universe, then I feel very proud.”