In 2019, just one-third of Black households owned stock, compared with more than 60 percent of white households. Combine this with a Credit Suisse study that found low African American participation in the stock market contributes to the widening wealth gap between Black and white households, and the deep inequalities faced by African Americans are evident.
Fallout from the pandemic has been devastating too, with Black unemployment climbing to 16.6 percent in May last year, more than double the rate of white unemployment, and Black business ownership tumbling more than 40 percent. In the face of these growing challenges, one man has a solution.
Securities lawyer and businessman, Joe Cecala, will launch the first minority-owned stock exchange in 2022. The Dream Exchange will debut with the goal of supporting underserved communities and is designed to “focus on small business capital formation and diversity using the power of the American investing public.” This new stock exchange will allow investors to empower innovators and emerging businesses in a way that has never been done before.
The Dream Exchange has developed a free capital networking platform, DreamExConnect, to bring small business owners and investors together. DreamExConnect allows businesses to create a profile, tell their story and specify criteria so investors can find them based on keywords, location, funding round and regulation type. The platform also enables investors to communicate directly with small business owners, in a space akin to a safe social media app.
The Dream Exchange has developed free online educational materials that teach participants how to better understand and participate in the market. Education is a key piece of the puzzle, since many African Americans hesitate to invest due to limited experience with stock markets, preferring to invest in safer, more tangible assets, as well as a legacy of fear and discrimination. The exchange also intends to influence job growth in minority in communities, while expanding access to stock exchanges.
With the goal of providing access to companies with lower market capitalizations—most companies enter public markets now at $100 million or above—the Dream Exchange is seeking to connect with businesses in the medical technology, IT, cybersecurity, agriculture, organic food, engineering and environmental waste industries.
The New American Dream
Dismantling misconceptions, delivering valuable, investing education and creating value for minority communities, the
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