In 2019, while 61 percent of white households owned stock, only 33.5 percent of Black households owned stock. And while minority stock ownership narrowed between 2016 and 2019, according to the Associated Press, the COVID-19 pandemic and acute recession have “widened the gap again.”

In addition to the disparities between Black and white stock owners, opportunities to invest in Black-owned businesses through public trading remains slim. Per Bank Black USA, there are only eight publicly traded companies owned by Black people: Urban One (UONE), Ping Identity Holding Corp, Global Blood Therapeutics, Axsome Therapeutics, American Shared Hospital Services (AMS), RLJ Lodging (RLJ), and Sycamore Entertainment Group, Inc. (SEGI). These discouraging stats, paired with conflicting information about the stock market, begs the question: Is stock investment a viable way to make money? If you asked Joe Cecala, the founder of the Dream Exchange—the first minority-owned stock exchange—he would say yes, without a doubt. 

With over 20 years of experience in business, Cecala is combating a long-standing issue rooted in racism: the wealth gap. According to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, “Black families’ median and mean wealth is less than 15 percent that of white families.” With COVID-19 in the mix, according to the Washington Post, business ownership within the Black community has “plummeted more than 40 percent”—more than any other group.

In an interview with Complex, Cecala debunked myths about investing in stock, explained how and why he’s starting a stock market, and outlined the impact it will have on minority business owners. At the time of this interview, in October 2020, Cecala was working alongside William Ellison, founder of private equity firm Cadiz Capital Holding, to establish the market. Today, Ellison is no longer part of Dream Exchange. Per the Dream Exchange team, “Cadiz Capital has been unable to fund its investment in Dream Exchange,” and the group is looking to expand this opportunity to potential capital providers in the Black community.

With its launch anticipated in the first quarter of 2022, here are five key things you need to know about the Dream Exchange—the first minority-owned stock exchange.