To encourage young entrepreneurs, $1.2 billion‑asset Dieterich Bank in Effingham, Ill., launched its KidPreneur Pop Up Shop program in 2019. The program has become a way for the youth of the community to create, launch and grow their own businesses with the bank’s help.

“Originally, we were looking for a fun way to bring kids into the bank branches,” says Haley Geier, regional branch manager for the bank’s Newton, Ill., branch. “The goal was to teach financial literacy while being creative and letting the kids have a sense of independence. Dieterich Bank believes it is never too early to learn the basic principles of money management.”

The community bank posts KidPreneur sign-up sheets on its social media page and in its branches. Before the young person’s “business launch,” a retail banker or lender meets with the child and discusses what their business of choice is. The banker then offers planning information, such as the cost of running a business to a profitable margin and the return on investment. 

Dieterich also offers selling space to KidPreneurs in its branch lobbies, plus business cards, professional headshots and marketing. During lobby hours, the students’ pop-up shops are open for business.

All this business planning is done in a basic way, based on the child’s age. And given the age ranges of these children, typically 8 to 13, Dieterich Bank requires that the parents be involved. In most cases, each pop-up shop is set up for one day, and a parent and/or teacher is required to stay with the child during the day—usually in the summer, since students are on break.

“This [KidPreneur] program boosts creativity in these students. ... The bank is able to teach a little financial literacy in our younger generation in a way that does not feel like learning.”
—Haley Geier, Dieterich Bank

Student-powered marketing

In terms of marketing, the community bank creates individual Facebook events to help with advertising. It also allows the students to share their Facebook stories. 

“The child will receive business cards to hand out ahead of time, if they prefer,” Geier says. “Social media is a great resource to get the word out!”

Since its start in 2019, several young entrepreneurs have donated a portion of their sales to a charity of their choice. Dieterich Bank has matched all donations, as giving back to its communities is one of its greatest passions.

The KidPreneur program has been gaining in popularity. When the program launched in 2019, there were seven Dieterich branches. And that year, around 20 children participated, either individually or in groups. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dieterich Bank did not offer the program again until 2023, when about 10 students participated. According to Geier, “With this being the first year back in a while, we were satisfied with this number.” 

She also notes that the program will continue. “With that being said, though, the bank has a small committee that will gather during the beginning of summer and brainstorm new engaging ways to keep our KidPreneur program exciting and tactful,” she says.

Success stories

One example of a KidPreneur success story: Meraki Health, based in Newton, provides opportunities for the siblings of children with special needs to bond and receive some special attention of their own. 

One summer, a group of elementary school girls from this group, who called themselves “Blossoms,” was invited by the Newton branch of Dieterich Bank to participate in KidPreneur. The Blossoms set up an entrepreneurial project in the bank’s lobby for a day. 

“They served ‘Mermaid Lemonade,’ which contains spirulina, a plant from the sea which has many health benefits,” says Sarah Weiler, CEO of Meraki Health. “The girls did a fabulous job developing a business plan and marketing to the public. The bank also offered to match the girls’ earnings from the day. The girls were very excited and used their money to purchase items for the special needs summer camp that they and their siblings attended.” 

The best part of the program, according to Weiler, was that a picture of the Blossoms’ lemonade stand made one of the local billboards. 

“The opportunity that the bank gave to those girls was very meaningful and left an imprint on them,” she says. “Several of the girls have gone on to learn more about entrepreneurship and financial literacy since that summer. Thanks to Dieterich Bank for the opportunity you gave our Blossoms!” 

“This program boosts creativity in these students,” says Geier. “They are able to use their imagination with innovation. The bank is able to teach a little financial literacy in our younger generation in a way that does not feel like learning.” And last but not least is the element of fun. They can sell their products to people, earn a little extra cash and learn some valuable skills along the way.