Jul 10, 2023

Breaking Barriers and Paving the Way for Minority Owned Businesses

Gustave “Gus” Tucker
Vice President of Member Services

In a world where economic opportunities for black-owned businesses have historically been limited, a remarkable movement is gaining momentum. Dream Exchange, the first majority black-owned and governed stock exchange, stands as a symbol of hope, resilience, and economic empowerment for minority entrepreneurs. As a black man working within this groundbreaking initiative, I have witnessed firsthand the disparities faced by black businesses in accessing capital. Today, I want to shed light on the struggles we have faced, the statistics that highlight the disparities, and the transformative potential of the Dream Exchange.

In 2007 I was the head of the Chicago Urban Leage’s Entrepreneurship Center, dedicated to supporting emerging black businesses. The center became a hub of excellence, attracting exceptional individuals and providing them with the necessary funding to bring their dreams to fruition. Many of these firms went on to achieve remarkable success, and that is something that I am very proud of. 

Our journey was not without challenges; we often encountered the harsh realities of raising capital for minority and women-owned businesses. Despite their tremendous potential, these enterprises often struggle to secure the funding they need to scale.  According to the Federal Reserve’s 2020 Small Business Credit Survey, only 40% of black-owned businesses were able to obtain the full amount of funding they sought, compared to 60% of their white counterparts. This disparity in funding sources hampers the growth and potential success of black entrepreneurs, perpetuating the cycle of economic inequality. 

stacks of coins with plants growing out the top

Getting Access to Capital


Despite these barriers, we had several success stories. Along the way, we encountered inspiring individuals who epitomized the power of entrepreneurship. One such example was a black, female-owned construction company owned by Stephanie Hickman of Hickman Construction representing the third generation of entrepreneurs. Another was Ujamaa Construction led by Jimmy Akintonde who has built a $100M+ construction firm and had a lead role in constructing the Obama Presidential library. Another standout figure was a visionary who built a thriving tennis village Kamau Murray (who also coached Sloane Stephens during her win at the US Open), mentoring black and brown children and facilitating scholarships for their education. These success stories fueled our determination to correct the systemic barriers facing minority-owned businesses and proved that it can be done with the right people and support facilities in place. 

For far too long, the game of economic prosperity has been controlled by an exclusive few. Opportunities to be part of the big house, to have a seat at the table, have been elusive for marginalized communities, especially the Black American community.  

However, with Dream Exchange, we are committed to challenging the status quo.  

We firmly believe that the next phase of the civil rights movement lies in achieving economic empowerment, or “Silver Rights” as coined by John Hope Bryant and we believe that Wall Street represents the pinnacle of economic power. Dream Exchange presents an opportunity for individuals, many who came from humble origins, to own a stake in the companies that shape their communities.  

With the culmination of over 400 years of struggle and resilience, Dream Exchange emerges as a symbol of a necessary course correction for our public capital markets. It signifies a monumental step towards creating a fairer future where people with good ideas win no matter who they are or where they come from.  

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