(NewsNation) Many in the United States share the American dream: work hard, retire and leave a legacy of generational wealth. But for many Americans, that dream is still out of reach.
One of the biggest barriers to wealth creation is lack of access, and this hits marginalized communities the hardest.
Joe Cecala, founder and CEO of Dream Exchange, and his business partner Dwain J. Kyles wanted to change that, so they started the first black-owned stock exchange. A stock market, according to Investopedia, this is where financial instruments are tradedas well as where stock buyers connect with sellers.
“We help build capital, we help people access public markets,” Cecala said on “NewsNation Live” Monday. “We also regulate how the buying and selling of stocks is done on a daily basis.”
Dream Exchange began after Cecala and Kyles saw many problems faced by small, minority-owned businesses.
“It's a very difficult environment to raise capital if you're a small business, let alone a minority-owned small business,” Cecala told NewsNation's Nichole Berlie.
A Federal Reserve survey showed that in 2022, about 40% of black households and 28.3% of Hispanic households had investments in stocks, compared to 65.6% of white households.
“We didn't have grandfathers, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers who informed us about the markets because they didn't benefit from them because of the historical discrimination in this country,” he said. said John Rogers, founder and co-CEO of Ariel Investments, in a 2020 Associated Press article.
Black borrowers historically had limited access to mortgages and affordable housing due to decades of Red line and other discriminatory practices, Raphael Bostic, » said the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in the article.
Fewer opportunities to build wealth, which means lower income, and less money to invest after paying the bills.
But experts say increasing investments by racial minorities in the stock market could help narrow this wealth gap.
Cecala says that about 75 to 80 percent of the people making up the Dream Exchange base are accredited Black investors and that the Dream Exchange board is growing.
“We are truly a diverse staff company,” Cecala said. “It’s a seat at the table.”
That being said, Dream Exchange's services are open to everyone, regardless of race.
“If you're a small business owner and you have a great idea, you really have to have a lot of investors, or you really have to grow organically and be so profitable right away that you can't develop yourself,” Cecala said. “It’s a problem of color blindness in our country. It turns out it's a little more pronounced in minority communities.
So, Cecala said, Dream Exchange is there for everyone.
“If you have a good idea, if you have an imaginative business and you're doing well, we want to help you build the capital you need to grow your business and reach the public,” Cecala said. “We want to bring prosperity to all communities across the country, in order to have a more stable society. »
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