Two entrepreneurs are working together to launch the first Black-owned stock exchange. Joe Cecala and Dwain J. Kyles built The Dream Exchange to make the stock market more accessible to people of all backgrounds. The duo’s venture, which will launch later this year, will operate similar to the New York Stock Exchange, allowing Americans to buy stock in public companies. However, The Dream Exchange will feature smaller, emerging companies.

“Our approach is to really look at those small companies that have been left behind,” Kyles told Scripps News.

Cecala and Kyles hope to see the growth of those smaller companies as they aim to close the wealth gap in America with their new venture.

“Hopefully, 10 years from now, when a small company is growing and it’s doing well and they want to go to their next phase, their first thought is, ‘Oh, well, we can go to the Dream Exchange and get capital,'” Cecala told Scripps News.

For many Black-owned companies, it’s challenging to acquire capital. As a result, a majority of these companies are not featured on a stock exchange. The U.S. Treasury Department Task Force revealed that minority-owned companies only make up 0.2% of the listings featured on the New York Stock Exchange, per Scripps News.

“If we can build these companies up and expand them, we’ll have prosperous communities,” Cecala said. “I think that it has a ripple effect to solve so many of our nation’s problems.”

Kyles has taken notes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a close friend of his father in Memphis.

“What he [Dr. King] began to understand in the later years of his life [is] that you were not going to achieve equality anywhere in this country or anyplace else if there is not economic parity,” Kyles said. “You’ve got to be able to give people the opportunity to earn a good living and take care of their families, or it’s never going to work.”

Kyles and Cecala emphasize the significance of a company being listed on a stock exchange.

“There’s literally thousands of available jobs that are created when one company goes public, and if we put those companies into communities that are really not participating, we can build prosperity in the communities that really are most in need of it,” Cecala said.

As they continue their effort to bring more capital to minority-owned companies, Kyles and Cecala are urging Congress to pass the Main Street Growth Act. The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) in December, promotes the use of venture exchanges. This type of market makes it possible for growing companies to get more capital, Ripon Advance reported.

With their progressive ideas, Kyles and Cecala envision a brighter future for the country as a whole.

“Even if you don’t have stock, it matters. It matters. It matters relative to the quality of life you live in your community,” Kyles told Scripp News. “The American economy has been the most robust and vital in the history of the world. We can do better. We can do better. We can lift more boats.”