Driven: Nonprofit Vivian’s Door helps minority businesses thrive with new grant

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A woman with a vision to help minority businesses fight against systemic racism is using her passion and a new grant to help them thrive.  

For Janice Malone, helping Black-owned businesses succeed is personal.  

“When I was a kid, there were cleaners and there were stores. There were all these things. Now I take my grandkid along with me, and I’m pointing at blank spots on the street,” she said.  

As a business owner herself, she went through training to help her grow and noticed that other Black-owned business owners didn’t have that same know-how. So, she founded Vivian’s Door. 

Named after her cousin and the first Black person to graduate from the University of Alabama, Vivian Malone Jones, Vivian’s Door is a nonprofit that gives business owners the tools to grow through coaching, mentorship, and networking.  

“We want to make that they made it to the next destination that we wanted them to get to and that they got what they needed so we can take them from that point and get them onto the next destination,” Malone said.  

Personal trainer Dexter Sutton had a moment where he didn’t think he could reach his destination. He lost 60 percent of business last year after the pandemic forced his gym to shut down, but Vivian’s Door helped him pivot to teaching classes virtually.  

“I was really having a hard time, especially with securing finances and getting help,” Sutton said. “That’s one of the biggest ways they have helped me. Being able to survive through the pandemic.” 

Now Vivian’s Door has gotten a new grant to help more people like Sutton. It’s called LIFT, a new program similar to taking a business course, something Malone said business owners need to help build generational wealth.  

Malone also said she won’t stop lifting people as they climb until she sees more people who look like her thrive. 

“The one thing we want from them is success,” she said. “We want that bottom line to increase so that they can increase wealth in the communities that are underserved and marginalized.” 

If you want to take part in the lift program to help your business grow, it’s not too late to apply. The application deadline is April 9 and classes start April 12. Click here to learn more.  

You can email Vivian’s Door at info@viviansdoor.com. For more information on Dexter’s Fitness Center, click here.

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