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Ludwick Marishane: A bath without water

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If you had to walk a mile for a jug of water every day, as millions of people do, it's unlikely you'd use that precious water to bathe. Young entrepreneur Ludwick Marishane tells the amazing, funny story of how he invented a cheap, clean and convenient solution: DryBath, the world’s first bath-substituting lotion.

- Entrepreneur
Student Ludwick Marishane invented a water-less bathing lotion and was named the 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award -- all because he didn't feel like taking baths. Full bio

So I grew up in Limpopo, on the border of Limpopo
00:15
and Mpumalanga, a little town called Motetema.
00:18
Water and electricity supply are as unpredictable
00:21
as the weather, and growing up in these tough situations,
00:23
at the age of 17, I was relaxing with a couple of friends
00:28
of mine in winter, and we were sunbathing.
00:31
The Limpopo sun gets really hot in winter.
00:34
So as we were sunbathing, my best friend next to me says,
00:37
"Man, why doesn't somebody invent something that you can
00:40
just put on your skin and then you don't have to bathe?"
00:43
And I sat, and I was like, "Man, I would buy that, eh?"
00:47
So I went home, and I did a little research,
00:51
and I found some very shocking statistics.
00:54
Over 2.5 billion people in the world today
00:58
do not have proper access to water and sanitation.
01:01
Four hundred and fifty million of them are in Africa,
01:04
and five million of them are in South Africa.
01:06
Various diseases thrive in this environment,
01:09
the most drastic of which is called trachoma.
01:11
Trachoma is an infection of the eye due to dirt
01:15
getting into your eye. Multiple infections of trachoma
01:17
can leave you permanently blind.
01:21
The disease leaves eight million people permanently blind
01:23
each and every year. The shocking part about it
01:27
is that to avoid being infected with trachoma,
01:30
all you have to do is wash your face:
01:33
no medicine, no pills, no injections.
01:34
So after seeing these shocking statistics, I thought to myself,
01:37
"Okay, even if I'm not just doing it for myself
01:40
and the fact that I don't want to bathe, I at least need
01:43
to do it to try to save the world." (Laughter)
01:45
So with my trusty little steed, my Nokia 6234 cell phone --
01:48
I didn't have a laptop, I didn't have Internet much,
01:53
except for the 20-rand-an-hour Internet cafe —
01:56
I did research on Wikipedia, on Google, about lotions,
01:59
creams, the compositions, the melting points, the toxicities --
02:02
I did high school science --
02:05
and I wrote down a little formula on a piece of paper,
02:07
and it looked like the KFC special spice, you know?
02:11
So I was like, okay, so we've got the formula ready.
02:14
Now we need to get this thing into practice.
02:17
Fast forward four years later, after having written
02:19
a 40-page business plan on the cell phone,
02:23
having written my patent on the cell phone,
02:26
I'm the youngest patent-holder in the country,
02:28
and — ("No more bathing!") —
02:31
I can't say any more than that. (Laughter)
02:34
I had invented DryBath, the world's first
02:36
bath-substituting lotion.
02:40
You literally put it on your skin, and you don't have to bathe.
02:43
(Laughter)
02:47
So after having tried to make it work in high school
02:51
with the limited resources I had, I went to university,
02:54
met a few people, got it into practice,
02:58
and we have a fully functioning product that's ready
03:00
to go to the market. It's actually available on the market.
03:03
So we learned a few lessons in commercializing
03:06
and making DryBath available.
03:09
One of the things we learned was that poor communities
03:12
don't buy products in bulk.
03:14
They buy products on demand. A person in Alex
03:16
doesn't buy a box of cigarettes. They buy one cigarette
03:19
each day, even though it's more expensive.
03:21
So we packaged DryBath in these innovative little sachets.
03:23
You just snap them in half, and you squeeze it out.
03:26
And the cool part is, one sachet substitutes one bath
03:29
for five rand.
03:33
After creating that model, we also learned a lot
03:35
in terms of implementing the product.
03:38
We realized that even rich kids from the suburbs
03:39
really want DryBath. (Laughter)
03:42
At least once a week.
03:44
Anyway, we realized that we could save 80 million liters
03:46
of water on average each time they skipped a bath,
03:49
and also we would save two hours a day for kids
03:52
who are in rural areas, two hours more for school,
03:55
two hours more for homework,
03:58
two hours more to just be a kid.
04:00
After seeing that global impact, we narrowed it down
04:02
to our key value proposition,
04:05
which was cleanliness and convenience.
04:07
DryBath is a rich man's convenience
04:10
and a poor man's lifesaver.
04:12
Having put the product into practice, we are actually now
04:15
on the verge of selling the product
04:18
onto a multinational to take it to the retail market,
04:20
and one question I have for the audience today is,
04:23
on the gravel roads of Limpopo,
04:27
with an allowance of 50 rand a week,
04:29
I came up with a way for the world not to bathe.
04:32
What's stopping you? (Applause)
04:36
I'm not done yet. I'm not done yet.
04:39
And another key thing that I learned a lot
04:42
throughout this whole process,
04:45
last year Google named me as one of the brightest young minds in the world.
04:46
I'm also currently the best student entrepreneur
04:50
in the world, the first African to get that accolade,
04:53
and one thing that really puzzles me is, I did all of this
04:56
just because I didn't want to bathe. Thank you.
05:01
(Applause.)
05:05
Translated by Joseph Geni
Reviewed by Morton Bast

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About the Speaker:

Ludwick Marishane - Entrepreneur
Student Ludwick Marishane invented a water-less bathing lotion and was named the 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award -- all because he didn't feel like taking baths.

Why you should listen

One day Ludwick Marishane and his best friend were sunbathing in the sweltering heat in their native Limpopo. Marishane's friend turned to him and said, "Man, why doesn't somebody invent something that you can just put on your skin and then you don't have to bathe?" Marishane, 17 at the time, thought: Yeah, why not? It took six months of research to develop a formula for a lotion that cleanses cheaply and easily -- especially important for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who lack proper access to water and sanitation.

DryBath has the same effect as anti-bacterial cleanser, but it's odorless and creates a biodegradable film that cleanes and moisturizes the skin. Five years later, it's now available on the market. Marishane has since enrolled at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and was named the Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011.

More profile about the speaker
Ludwick Marishane | Speaker | TED.com