Supporting young entrepreneurs one cookie sale at a time with the Girl Scouts

March 06, 2023

U.S. Bank mobile app, virtual docu-signing among the solutions helping Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri through their busiest time of year

In communities across the United States and every year around late-winter, Girl Scouts put on their green vests and embrace the life of being a young entrepreneur. For four weeks in the Kansas City area, they can be found in front of stores, in neighborhoods and at local events selling cookies to all. What isn’t seen, however, are the bankers who stand behind them.

“I love supporting these young entrepreneurs,” said Steven Sickmeyer, a small business banking specialist with U.S. Bank in the Kansas City area. “I want to help give them a sense of business ownership.”

A sense of ownership that first came to Sickmeyer in July 2022, when two Girl Scout troop leaders from the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri set up an appointment looking for help.

At their previous bank, troop leaders struggled with a variety of challenges including not having a banker to provide in-person support, being restricted to ATM-only deposits, and requiring everyone to be in the same room at the same time to make changes to accounts.

“Our banking and treasury management is complicated,” said Shari Wyly, the CFO of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri. “There is banking for the council and then there is troop banking… and troop banking now has a lot of autonomy in deciding where they want to bank.”

Late last year, about 600 troops that are a part of the Girl Scout council began the process of looking for a new banking home that could provide everything from checking to merchant services.

“When we first started this process of helping those troops solidify relationships with a bank, we were reaching out to every single bank in the area,” said Dawn Hewitt, customer care specialist at Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri. “When Steven came in and said he could be our one point of contact… well, it was like the clouds parting and sunshine coming through.”

From there, things started moving quickly.

“We had a lot of people working to get their finances straight before cookie sales started,” said Kathy Smith, the volunteer support specialist with the Girl Scouts council. “They all needed to know where their money was going and how to get there.”

That’s where Sickmeyer and U.S. Bank branch teams stepped in, providing non-profit checking accounts, using technology that allowed for virtual docu-signing, and setting up merchant services. Then, when Sickmeyer was away from the office to volunteer for several weeks, he had a plan in place to make sure the Girl Scouts didn’t go without support.

“My team and I, at one point, were opening accounts for Girl Scout troops by the handful every day,” said Jessica Fairchild, a branch manager in Blue Springs, Missouri. “Since then, we’ve been there for them to provide that in-person support they were lacking at a previous bank as well as help them take advantage of our digital solutions like the U.S. Bank mobile app.”

Now, more than half-a-year later, the success of the partnership between the U.S. Bank team and the Girl Scouts is seen in each cookie sale.

“I appreciate the relationship and that we are able in to, in good conscious and good faith, say that U.S. Bank is a good option for our troops,” said Wyly.

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