I am in awe as I piece together the story of this young and unassuming world changer, who believes that with vision and discipline everything is possible. You will agree with me that a lot of people have touched or in fact tried to change the world through numerous innovations and discoveries, but for some reason, Ludwick Marishane stands out. He is the brain behind the word’s first water-less bath gel, an invention that still remains a wonder to many.
Ludwick acknowledges the fact that he was born in a poor community, where he spent most of his life. According to him growing up in his poor community of Limpopo was not an easy thing for anyone, yet he pushed himself to do more; and with his father’s encouragement and his tremendous love for science, the young man began his quest for the extraordinary.
Ludwick Marishane was still in high school when he thought of ‘Dry bath’- a bio-degradable moisturising germ-killing bath gel that does all the work of a bath without the need for water.
Within six months, the teenager had devised the formula for the gel and in less than a year, he had written up a 40-page business plan, applied for a patent and launched his start-up, called ‘Head Boy’ Industries. This young entrepreneur has always been ready to defy the conventional. In 9th grade, he formulated his own biodiesel fuel, invented a healthy cigarette and in 10th grade, Ludwick authored a mobile dictionary and also attempted to publish a nationwide security magazine. Little wonder he describes his journey as that of a kid in pursuit of changing the world and has committed more than four years to it thus far. And for him, meaningful thinking has become an interesting hobby “I am always lost in thought, it is my most familiar territory.”
He recounts the unforgettable experience that gave him inspiration for the Drybath; “The idea came to me in the 11th grade in 2007. It was a cold winter’s day; I was sunbathing with some of my friends when one of my best friends had to go bathe. After we nagged him to hit the shower, he eventually said, “why doesn’t someone invent something you can just put on your skin and avoid the need to bathe?”
“A light bulb went on as I realized that I would pay money out of my pocket to buy such a product. Bear in mind that we were in the middle of rural Limpopo province, with almost non-existent resources. I went home that day and used my web-enabled basic cellphone to research if such a product existed. My research showed that the product didn’t seem to exist, and there was a huge market of 2.5 billion people in the world without proper access to water who were in dire need of such product. Coming from such background myself, I felt compelled to create the product. It took 6 months and endless time on Google and Wikipedia to do it.”
In 2011, four years after Ludwick hatched the idea for his ground-breaking product, he won the Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year award(an international competition that recognizes high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who own a flourishing business), along with $10,000 in cash to finance his start-up.
Ludwick, who was a student at the University of Cape Town at the time, beat out 1,600 other student nominees from around the world. By the time Ludwick completed his final year of business science at the University; he had been named one of the brightest minds in the world at the Google Zeitgeist conference, completed an internship at Goldman Sachs and also made the finals of the Singapore University Global Business Plan Competition.
The young entrepreneurial genius remains highly optimistic and hopes that his ground breaking invention will benefit people from the poorest communities in the world who do not have access to clean water and also offer convenience to wealthier communities and also decrease their unhealthy practice of unnecessary daily bathing (which is proven to cause continuous drying of the skin). To him, in both situations precious water is saved, which can be put to better use.
Drybath packets sell for 50 cents in developing countries and can be purchased for $1.50 by corporate customers like airlines or hotels. Ludwick expects economies of scale to drive down the cost for packets sold in poor communities. It is sold in individual packets and one packet equals one bath. He says for every packet sold to corporate buyers, a free packet is reserved for humanitarian service.
Now who is in a better position to offer valuable advice to younger entrepreneurs? Your guess is as good as mine. According to Ludwick; “Find what you love doing, and exert all your effort on pursuing it. Do as much as you can on your own, and always ask for help when you need it. Embrace failure, because you will only ever experience it if you give up, not if you try and fail to succeed. I plan to use the title of Best Student Entrepreneur in the World to start the world’s first entrepreneurship League, and to roll this out globally over the next 5 years. I am dedicating my life to enabling the world’s youth to follow their dreams, and I urge other entrepreneurs to do the same………..by first following their dreams.”
Ludwick has done exceptionally well for himself; Africa and the world at large despite the hurdles, lack and the numerous challenges he faced; yet he remains indomitable and unrelenting. The price he had to pay through hard work, diligence and perseverance speaks volumes to this day. You too can do it if only you can take the decision and immediately get to work; you have more than is required. Believe in yourself.