Standing tall at 1,93m, Ludwick Marishane looks like he could’ve been a basketball player. Trudging through the mud in a kraal just outside of Cape Town’s Langa Township, those long legs come in handy when scaling a fence to take his place in front of the camera. Clambering into an empty bathtub, the suit-clad entrepreneur becomes a literal representation of the invention that has made him famous.
Ludwick created Dry Bath. A non-water based bath substitute lotion, it stands as a solution to the global water crisis, as well as the health issues that arise from poor sanitation. It’s simplicity and innovation have demanded global attention. Highlighted by TIME Magazine as one of 30 young people who are changing the world, it’s young creator has also been noted by Google as one of the brightest young minds in the world; all this before the age of 25.
Crediting his father with his determined work ethic, Ludwick playfully recalls how every day, as a child, he was required to give his father a play by play of everything he’d learned at school that day. “I hated it,” he laughs. “Yoh, I despised it. I only started appreciating it later but up until matric I was like ‘WHY?’” Despite his youthful opposition, it instilled in him a persistent need to understand things.
A naturally curious mind, Ludwick describes his light bulb moment. Beginning as a joke between friends, the idea of a bath substitute became tangible in his hands. “One of my friends said jokingly, ‘Why doesn’t somebody invent something that you can just put on your skin and then you don’t have to bath?’” The question stuck in his mind, demanding his attention.
With a slew of stalled inventions to his name, he was determined to make this idea a reality. Rural Limpopo presented limited resources for research, the discipline instilled in him by his father coming in handy. Ludwick studied, developed and typed up a business plan using only his cell phone. His drive and persistence paid off when, at seventeen years old, he became the country’s youngest ever patent filer, when he successfully patented Dry Bath.
Driving from Cape Town to the township location of Ludwick’s portrait shoot, it becomes starkly clear how necessary a product like Dry Bath really is. Vast amounts of communities in South Africa are not equipped with running water, procuring it being a laborious process. Dry Bath takes water out of the equation. Created with poor communities front of mind, the product is also environmentally mindful, saving 80 litres of water with every use.
Passing sachets of Dry Bath to the crew after the messy shoot, Ludwick explains enthusiastically how it works. Its success has seen him found and head his own company Head Boy Industries. Still, Dry Bath is hardly his opus. A forward thinking mind tells him that there’s always another problem to be solved, and another innovative solution to meet it. For him, success is in the journey. “Success is being able to pursue your challenge. Whatever it is,” he tells us. “For me that is success, being allowed to focus solely on what you have chosen.”