Taking out a mortgage to buy a home is a commonplace transaction in many parts of the world, but there are regions such as West Africa where the basic infrastructure for such a deal is patchy at best. Former Peace Corps volunteer Robert Hornsby saw a business opportunity with a strong social impact component: Create a mortgage industry from scratch that puts locals in homes and provides foreign investors with a healthy return. In 2014, Hornsby co-founded American Homebuilders of West Africa (AHWA), where he is currently CFO. He works in collaboration with Ameet Dhillon, managing director of US-Africa Housing Finance, which provides financing for AHWA homes. They recently spoke about the project on the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Could you give us some background on how you got started and where in West Africa you work?