In his TED talk, he challenged the audience to discover what they are passionate about and work on it, not only to gain recognition, but also to become a world-changer. Having parents who come from opposite social hierarchies, he was exposed to affluent ways of life in Africa when he was in Johannesburg, as well as the scarce resources for basic needs in Motetema. Seeing the need for change, he knew that he had what it takes to contribute. And he did not stop until he found his niche.
It helped that he had a way with technology. Although he did not have the luxury of a laptop or his own internet connection, he earnestly found means to access information. When venture firms turned him down repeatedly, he looked for alternative ways to gain funding and took part in competitions. He did not bring it home the first time, but he kept trying until he eventually beat 1,600 contestants and earned the prize money, which he used for education and financing Headboy Industries, the manufacturer of DryBath.
Who would have thought an invention which challenges the belief that bathing every day is requisite to proper hygiene would be bankable?
Ludwick’s Early Life
Ludwick was born to Stanford Malatji and Lovemore Marishane. His father was a fortunate, self-sufficient man and was able to provide for his son’s education. Unlike most African kids, Ludwick had the privilege of going to decent schools, owing to his father’s good financial standing. It was his father who inspired him to do his best in everything he did His mother, on the other hand, was a great balancer, providing the emotional support and encouragement he needed to achieve what his dad expected of him. This kind of upbringing molded Ludwick into a go-getter. He knew that, in order to achieve something, he had to work for it.
The family lived in Johannesburg until he was ten years old. It is not fully explained how they ended up living in Motetema after a decade of residing in his father’s place. Poverty was a major problem in his mother’s hometown; even the most basic commodities were scarce. Water was deemed a luxury.
Thanks to his father, who served as his guide and inspiration, Ludwick’s love for entrepreneurship came to light when he was in high school. Alongside his passion for business, he also had a great interest in science, and discovered that he had a talent for inventing. When he was in 9th grade, Ludwick was able to concoct his very own biodiesel fuel and develop a healthy cigarette. Upon realizing it would take more than a kid’s brilliance to take on the tobacco industry, he abandoned further development of his product. Despite this, he was not deterred from inventing; the following year, Ludwick “authored a mobile dictionary and attempted to publish a nationwide security magazine” (source: The Huffington Post)
As a child, Ludwick had a hobby of creating things with whatever materials he could find around him. Those who knew him describe Ludwick as someone who looks for every opportunity to make his time worthwhile. In his 11th year, though, no one expected that Ludwick would strike gold.
A Bath without Water
His talent for inventing did not reach a global scale until he invented DryBath. Ludwick tells the story of how the idea of a bath without water came to him:
“The idea came to me in the 11th grade in 2007. It was a cold winter's day; I was sunbathing with some friends of mine, 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 be willing to pay money out of my pocket to buy such a product. Bear in mind that we were in the middle of the 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 a product (that number doesn't include the billion more like my friend, who were lazy to bathe). Coming from a poor background myself, I felt compelled to create the product. It took 6 months and endless time on Google & Wikipedia to do it.” (SOURCE: The Huffington Post)
From only a lazy friend’s musing, DryBath was born. It did not occur to Ludwick that water problems would be that large; what really got him to work hard was the realization that an invention like DryBath could spare many people from deadly diseases such as Trachoma. He explains in his TED talk:
“The disease leaves eight million people permanently blind each and every year. The shocking part about it is that to avoid being infected with trachoma, all you have to do is wash your face: no medicine, no pills, no injections. So after seeing these shocking statistics, I thought to myself, ‘Okay, even if I'm not just doing it for myself and the fact that I don't want to bathe, I at least need to do it to try to save the world.’” (SOURCE: TED Talks)
They determined that Africans would not buy products in bulk, so DryBath was packaged in sachets, good for one use and sold to commercial companies for 1.50 dollars per sachet. They are currently sold under Headboy Industries LLC, a company Ludwick founded in 2008. Four years after began research for DryBath, the product hit the market and has sold 167,000 sachets to-date.
His company’s credo is “Cleanliness and Convenience,” and it works for both the rich and the poor. For a rich man, DryBath saves them from the tedious routine of having to rinse. For a poor man, DryBath saves him and his family money and spares them from horrible diseases.
Ludwick knows that his invention still has a long way to go. Being an open-minded person, he knows he’s not the only one capable of creating ways to make life convenient for all of us. It’s just heartwarming that a university student would care so much for other people to devote so much time, energy, and allowance to making life easier for them.
An extraordinary inventor like Ludwick reminds us that nothing can come between us and our dreams, as long as we are willing to work hard to achieve results.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Pioneers@Uni Division
- Technology Innovation Agency
- No Bathing Weekend
- Headboy Industries
- The Art of Business Challenge
Awards and Achievements
- 2000 - 2008: Student of the Year
- 2004: Gauteng Provincial winner Maths, Science & Technology Olympiad
- 2008: Founded Headboy Industries
- 2009: Participated in the Brightest Young Minds (Youngest delegate ever) and Received the Dean’s Merit List
- 2009 - 2010: Won National Innovation Competition- National Finalist (3rd Place at UCT)
- 2010: Received the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) SA- 2nd National Environmental Prize
- 2010: Received Golden Key Honors Society- Best New Member
- 2010: Named Afriversity Entrepreneur of the Month- July
- 2011: Named the Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year and Participated in the Google Zeitgeist Global Brightest Young Mind
- 2011: Won the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition
- 2012: Received the Design Indaba MTN Special Award
- 2012: Named one of Mail & Guardian’s “Top 200 Young South Africans”
- 2013: Named one of TIME Magazine “30 People under 30 changing the World” and Forbes’s “30 under 30 African Young Entrepreneurs”
- 2013: Received the Frost & Sullivan Growth Leadership & Innovation Award
- 2013: Named one of the City Press 100 World Class South Africans
TED (Speakers Ludwick Marishane: Entrepreneur)
TED (Ludwick Marishane: A bath without water)
The Huffington Post (Interview with Award-Winning Social Student Entrepreneur Ludwick Marishane)
Time (These Are the 30 People Under 30 Changing the World)
Innovation Excellence (What Ludwick Marishane Teaches Us About Ideas)
Digital Journal (Ludwick Marishane: the young inventor of the DryBath)
Business Insider (A High School Student Invented A Bath-Substituting Lotion That Could Save Millions Of People)
Taking On The Giant (Ludwick Marishane: the young inventor of the DryBath)
International Business Times (DryBath: Student Ludwick Marishane Invents Product For A Bath Sans Water)
Ventures Africa (A Young African Entrepreneur And His Water Saving Business)
The Christian Post (DryBath Invented by 22-Year-Old Boy, No Water Required)