VENTURES AFRICA – Whether he positioned himself as a student, an entrepreneur, a Google EMEA Campus Ambassador or the founder of Headboy Industries Inc; Marishane Ludwick’s instinct has always been a mixture of luck and cunning. As an inquisitive chap, he has always been ambitious in his dealings while thinking ahead of situations as an opportunity for advancement.
At the age of 18, the South African entrepreneur ventured into business at a time when most of his peers are still thinking of how to get their way into the labour market.
Born into the family of Lovemore Marishane and Stanford Malatji in the region of Limpopo, South Africa; 22 year old Ludwick journey into “creative” entrepreneurship was not by accident or chance; rather it was cultivated and nurtured by his father who had always encouraged innovative ideas. He credited his dad for fanning the flame of entrepreneurship in him while he was in his first year in high school.
His love for science also encouraged his quest in inventing things. When he was in 9th grade, he formulated his own biodiesel fuel, invented a healthy cigarette; and in 10th grade he authored a mobile dictionary and attempted to publish a nationwide security magazine.
However, what actually brought Marishane into the limelight was his invention of the first Drybath product in the world.
When Marishane was in 11th grade, a simple question from a lazy friend (“why doesn’t someone invent something you can just put on your skin and avoid the need to bathe?”) who refused to take his bath after they had both sunbathed, triggered Ludwick’s ever-inquisitive mind to make a research on a probable solution to the problem.
He went home that day and used his “well-enabled basic cell phone” to search if such product exist and on discovering that it doesn’t; he took it upon himself to research on the product before coming out with something tangible that could serve as an alternative for using water to bath.
His idea led to the creation of an anti-bacteria cleanser he called “Dry- Bath.” DryBath, a clear gel, is the world’s first and only bath-substituting skin gel. It works without soap and water.
“It took 6 months and endless time on Google & Wikipedia to do it”, he once said in a media interview.
Since the invention of DryBath in 2008, Marishane has patented the product and registered it as a company to commercialise it.
As young as he is, Marishane knows the value of time to a growing business; “I commit 30 hours per week to running the company,” he said.
However, prior to that time, the question, “How do I save water?” had often been on his mind and he had been interested in renewable energy and sustainability for a while. He took that thought and begged the question that – “although solar water heaters and the like are great for providing sustainable alternatives, what if you could go one step further and save both water and electricity at the same time?.”
Marishane’s Drybath product came at a time when the amount of people in the world without access to water exceeds 2.5 billion people. Having a complete lack of water for an extended period of time often results in trachoma. The disease affects the eyes and can cause blindness if the person is repeatedly infected. The only preventative measure one needs to take to avoid contracting it is to wash their face.
The product was first designed for sleepy college students who are lazy to shower but today its greatest application is for millions of people who have no access to clean water. The product is also commercially available to global airlines on long-haul flights and governments who have soldiers on the field.
Speaking on his product- Dry Bath, he said, “I invented it to benefit people from the poorest communities in the world, and also for people in the developed world. For people without water, DryBath provides empowerment as an affordable tool to achieve lifesaving personal hygiene without having to be dependent on stagnant community water infrastructure development. For wealthier communities, it offers a convenient way to save time and decrease their unhealthy practice of unnecessary daily bathing (which is proven to cause continuous drying of the skin), while achieving adequate personal hygiene. In both situations, precious water is saved, which can be put to better use.”
The GEW is the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators, who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and human welfare. It features the Global Student Entrepreneurship Award- a premier international competition for High School, College, and Graduate students who have founded and are operating revenue generated business. The award is conducted by Entrepreneur’s Organisation, an elite society of entrepreneurs whose companies have combined annual revenues of over $124 billion.
“Participating in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards was a game-changing experience for my personal and professional growth, and winning is proof that crazy high school dreams can go on to bring about real change in the world.”
Marishane once said, “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 & fail to succeed.”
Meanwhile, apart from being a student of the University of Cape Town with a degree in Bachelor of Business Science, Accounting and Finance (2012), Ludwick is a Google EMEA Campus Ambassador at his alma matter (The Google Ambassador Program was created in 2006 to support outstanding students in Computer Science and a variety of other majors such as Business and Marketing) and a former residence Tutor (Leo Marquard Hall residence) & Mentor at University of Cape Town.
Speaking on his course of study, Marishane sees himself as a visionary, pursuing a degree which will help him understand the world of business whereby Africa will be the first to benefit from his skills. “I decided to study an accounting degree because I think it will provide me with the broadest understanding of business.”
Noted to have turned down a position as “Head boy” according to him, the decision was made because: “I turned down the position to give others a chance to lead.”
Expressing confidence in a recent interview, he quipped: “I do not think that you will ever encounter many teenagers who are as passionate about business as I am. I have good leadership capabilities, and an innate understanding of people and business processes”
Below are some awards Marishane has to his credit:
2011 Google Zeitgeist Young Mind
2011 SMU 6th LKY Global Business Plan Comp
2010 and 2011 Cape Town Entrepreneurship Competition – Finalist and Winner
2009/10 National Innovation Competition (NIC)- National Finalist
2010 Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) SA- 2nd National Environmental Prize
2010 Golden Key Honours Society- Best New Member
2010 Afriversity Entrepreneur of the month- July
2010 Cape Town Entrepreneurship Competition finalist
2009 Brightest Young Minds (Youngest delegate ever)
Allan Gray Fellow,
Deans Merit List,
2009 Regional Finalist for the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards,
2004 Maths, Science & Technology Olympiad (Gauteng Provincial winner),
Student of the Year (2000 to 2008),
Image via huffingtonpost