The past few decades have been a time of tremendous change across the world. Riding on the rising tide of the modernization of the twentieth century, and leveraging an increasingly globalized economy, numerous underdeveloped nations around the world have built strong industrial economies and begun to play catch up with world leaders in the West. While many factors, companies, and individuals have contributed to this rise, in many nations the work of Charles Bouri and his family has played a key role.

Different developing nations have leaped forward in different ways, expanding into many various industries. However, one thing that all of these nations need, regardless of their main exports, is reliable, affordable construction. And in much of the world, that construction depends on cement.

Cement is often overlooked, despite its role in the developed world. It is one of the most unique and versatile building materials ever created, and its invention heralded a new age of architecture, design, and affordable construction. The great advantage of cement is that it’s a pourable material. That means that it can take almost any shape, matching the form that it’s poured into. Once it has dried this form can be removed, leaving pristine sculpted cement. This allows it to be used as paving, in foundations, in walls, and in incredibly tall buildings.

More than that, cement itself has physical properties that make it an ideal construction material: it’s strong, durable, and holds weight well; shock and impact pass through it much better than they do many other materials; it’s also generally inexpensive to make, while just as reliable (if not more so) than more expensive materials. In fact, cement with metal mesh inside of it is one of the most versatile building materials available.

Thus, cement is perfect for developing countries that need to rapidly expand infrastructure or put up new construction. But not every country has the mineral deposits or manufacturing centers to create cement, and many developing countries need to import it. This is where Charles Bouri and his family’s company, Seament, made their mark.

The Bouri family witnessed a cement shortage in Nigeria, where most seaports were not capable of accommodating large cement ships. While cement prices skyrocketed, they brainstormed ways to bring cement in cheaply. They ended up inventing an ingenious “floating port” that would allow cement to be offloaded out in the harbor and then shuttled ashore.

This was the birth of Seament and sister company Sabulk, which the Bouri family still manage today. Thanks to Charles Bouri and Seament, developing nations around the world have easy access to low-cost, reliable cement.