Ludwick Marishane (@TheHeadBoy): A Young Entrepreneur With A Beautiful Mind

Despite winning the Global Champion of the Global Student Entrepreneur Award in 2011, making Google’s 2011 list of the brightest young minds in the world, as well as Forbes’ “30 under 30 African Entrepreneurs in 2013” and TIME magazine’s “Top 30 under 30 people who are changing the world for 2013”, and being named in City Press’s 100 World Class South Africans in 2013, 25-year-old Ludwick Marishane, founder and CEO of Headboy Industries, doesn’t really pay much attention to awards.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he explains. “Accolades certainly do validate your hard work and open more doors for you and your business. But I place a greater emphasis on creating a product and delivering a service that will truly impact and change our world. It’s more important for the work to be celebrated than the person.”

It’s Ludwick’s refreshing drive and passion to leave a lasting legacy that undeniably makes him one of the biggest inspirations in South Africa. It’s for this reason that he was selected as one of the key speakers at Citadel’s 2015 Inspiration Indaba, which will take place on 17 September 2015 at the Forum, Johannesburg.

SOLVING LIFE’S BEAUTIFUL PROBLEM

“I owe so much of who I am and what I do to my father,” reveals Ludwick. “My dad taught me from a young age how to solve problems. In fact, he inspired me to look at challenges from different angles. Most people will simply set out to find a solution without fully understanding what the problem is – this often leads to an answer that doesn’t really address nor solve the root of the problem. My father taught me to grapple with challenges from various angles, so that the solutions we find are best suited for the problem.”

It’s Ludwick’s approach to problem solving that lead to the creation of DryBath, an innovative body-cleansing and moisturising gel that allows users to clean themselves without a drop of water.

The idea came to a 17-year-old Ludwick after chatting to a friend who loathed bathing because, for one, it took precious time out of his day. Ludwick subsequently set out to find a solution for his friend. But, in true Ludwick style, he set out to research and dissect the problem from various angles to find the best possible solution – it was then that he learnt health and hygiene, paired with various other social factors like limited access to water, is a far greater issue in Africa.

Ludwick approached Dr Hennie du Plessis, a chemical engineer, with an idea for a waterless cleansing system that could address the issue at hand. He also drafted a 40-page business plan and, in due time, his idea had developed into a patent product that eventually turned into a multinational export company known as Headboy Industries.

BRIGHT YOUNG THING

It comes as no surprise that Ludwick, who hails from Motetema on the border of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, was that kid “who was just good at breaking things and then putting them back together”.

Despite his natural ability to craft, create and problem solve, Ludwick admits that he had to develop his tenacity to succeed at a young age. “Many people might not know that I had to repeat Grade 2. My English was terrible and I was struggling at school, and was kept back a year,” he explains. His instinctive determination to be triumphant led to Ludwick being named the top student in Grade 4 (a top-of-class reputation he carried through to graduating with a Bachelors of Business Science from the University of Cape Town).

Ludwick’s own schooling journey, partnered with the current challenges in South Africa’s educational system,was the inspiration for his other business venture. Excel@Uni is a dedicated programme that provides academic and professional development support for CSI-based bursary students.

“While there are plenty of financial bursary programmes available in South Africa, I noticed there’s not much other support provided to the students who are awarded the grants. This not only sets them up to fail, but also leads to a high drop-out rate at universities. Our aim is to give bursary students the right support that will, firstly, aid them in completing their degrees and then, secondly, make them highly employable by the time they graduate,” explains Ludwick.

To date, Excel@Uni has seen bursary students’ academics increase by 10% yearly while the drop-out rate has decreased by 75%.

A PHILOSOPHY THAT IS FUTURE-FOCUSED

 “As an entrepreneur, I want to revolutionise the way we do business in South Africa specifically, as well as in the rest of Africa. Most businessmen and women talk about creating an equal society, yet lack a true understanding of what our most pressing problems are. The result is that people find business solutions that don’t really speak to our most fundamental issues,” he explains.

Ludwick instead wants to create products and services that are sustainable, integritous and consistent. “It’s important that businesses not only create goods that will benefit the customers but the ones that will ultimately advance societies as a whole. If we want to drive our country and continent forward, we need to commit to solving problems and not just to finding solutions that will make money.”

Ludwick Marishane will be speaking at the second Citadel Inspiration Indaba on 17 September 2015 at the Forum, Johannesburg. You can book your seat at www.inspirationindaba.co.za