From the Heights of Olympia to the Nitty-Gritty of Success
A Black entrepreneur draws deeply on her family heritage to help others…help others
By any measure, Sheryl Grant is a person of tremendous accomplishment. After a three-decade career as a corporate executive, during which her many successes were blunted by the reality of the glass ceiling, she decided it was time for radical reinvention. At the age of 55, Sheryl trained for the Ms. Olympia fitness competition—ultimately emerging winner of that coveted title. Buoyed by this triumph, she realized that the mental discipline necessary to compete at that level could be translated into the business world, helping entrepreneurs and women in corporate America.
It was then that she founded Sheryl Grant Enterprises and began to teach her program of personal and professional development. FIT for Business is an acronym for Faith, Intuition, and Tenacity, the three main tools necessary to break through mental barriers and achieve positive results. As Sheryl teaches it, faith is the ability to see something that does not yet exist, to have a vision for your future, and absolutely believe in it. Intuition is trusting yourself to feel your way forward without having all the answers. Tenacity is the unswerving determination to manifest your vision despite all obstacles.
Ask Grant where she learned this triad of determining characteristics and she’s quick to answer—from her grandmother, Ester Mimms. An intensely spiritual person, Mimms was also a woman of action, helping to feed and educate the children in her church community while simultaneously working several jobs to bring income into the family. “While my grandmother did not have a formal education, she had one of the best educations you can ever have—and that’s the education of life,” Grant says.” “She owned or operated a laundry business. She cared for the elderly. She did caretaking, she cooked and sold dinners. I was brought up to have faith, to trust my intuition and my grandmother always said that, you know, idle time is the devil’s workshop. She believed in making sure that we were kept busy and that we earned everything that we did. Nothing was given.”
It was perhaps inevitable, then, that when Grant decided to offer her professional educational program to entrepreneurs of color, she named her nonprofit the Ester K. Mimms Foundation. A generous grant from the Impact Deposit Corporation enabled the new foundation to create its innovative “2X1 Program” which brings together two black-owned businesses for mutual benefit. EKM purchases service vouchers that provide Black entrepreneurs with free access to valuable services delivered by local minority-owned businesses. The program supports both businesses, forming valuable relationships that allow each to grow and flourish. For the first phase of the 2×1 Program, The EKM Foundation is proud to partner with the Oakland African
American Chamber of Commerce and their million-dollar Black Resiliency Fund for Black entrepreneurs in the Oakland community. In addition, Sheryl Grant and EKM Foundation are working in partnership with the National US Black Chamber and their innovative “ByBlack” initiative, which collaborates with leading tech companies like Google and American Express to create the first-of-its-kind Black Business Verification system for Black businesses across the US. In developing these innovative partnerships between the Black entrepreneurs, corporate America, and the private wealth community, EKM has a goal of partnering with national Black Chambers of Commerce and professional organizations to bring the 2×1 Program to Entrepreneurs and local communities of color across the nation. “What we hope to do is not only reenergize…economic development,” Grant says. “ We’re really helping to create more job opportunities. We’re helping these businesses to not only survive but thrive, by getting the tools and resources that they need to be successful.”
"“While my grandmother did not have a formal education, she had one of the best educations you can ever have—and that's the education of life. She owned or operated a laundry business. She cared for the elderly. She did caretaking, she cooked and sold dinners. I was brought up to have faith, to trust my intuition and my grandmother always said that, you know, idle time is the devil's workshop. She believed in making sure that we were kept busy and that we earned everything that we did. Nothing was given.
Sheryl Grant, Founder, Sheryl Grant Enterprises