I am just getting back from a trip to Conakry, Guinea (West Africa). I traveled with my friend and business partner Bob Hornsby who is a co-founder of American Homebuilders of West Africa (AHWA). I run an investment firm focused on financing residential housing in Guinea called US-Africa Housing Finance (USAHF) and it was important for me to see first-hand the business to which I commit my investors’ money. The capital that we deploy supports financing for diaspora borrowers that purchase houses built by AHWA in Guinea. See the photos below to get a flavor for what I experienced while in Guinea.
AHWA has a very dedicated staff of Guineans that handle all aspects of the business including accounting, project management, site survey and the like. I spent considerable time with the team in the office (located in the heart of Conakry, Guinea); at the housing sites (in suburbs of Conakry); and at an elegant team dinner at a fancy downtown hotel. The entire team is very young, energetic and motivated. They view their jobs as more than a means of earning a living. Many of them openly expressed to me that building quality housing that even foreign buyers can be proud to own gives them tremendous personal pride and satisfaction as well as great hope for the future of their country.
During my trip, AHWA hosted an open house for prospective buyers. I toured the houses along with this group of more than 20 people including a couple from Calgary, Canada that are originally from Guinea and now want to purchase a house in the country of their birth. There was also a gentleman who came along to do the final inspection for a house that his sister, who lives in New Jersey, had recently purchased. He diligently inspected the house along with an AHWA project manager and signed the final paperwork. However, what caught my attention was the smile on his face which showed how pleased he was with how the house turned out—he had been tracking construction for many months. He commented that he knows many other people that want to buy quality homes in Guinea and that he will strongly encourage them to buy from AHWA based upon his recent experience.
My trip was both professionally and personally satisfying. I achieved my professional goal of more clearly understanding how my investor’s capital is being utilized to facilitate the purchase of residential housing in Guinea, West Africa. But in addition, on a personal level, this was an experience I will cherish for years to come. I gained a deeper understanding of the lifestyle, aspirations, and motivations of a group of people that are doing extraordinary things in a country far away from mine. I am better for the experience in more ways than I can ever articulate in one blog post.