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Dry Bath founder’s water saving proposal hits wall with city, government officials

Cape Town is in the middle of perhaps its worst water crisis, but South African award-winning entrepreneur Ludwick Marishane says city officials and national government have yet to take up his proposal to supply millions of sachets of his Dry Bath product to city residents.

The product, a gel which can be used as a substitute to showering, can save the city millions of litres of water if the city goes ahead and orders millions of sachets.

Speaking to Ventureburn following the launch today of a campaign to sell R1-million’s worth of Dry Bath sachets at R25 each on crowdfunding platform ThundaFund, Marishane, the founder of Headboy Industries, says he has approached both to the Department of Water and Sanitation and the City of Cape Town.

But concedes Marishane: “You’re talking to a wall half the time.”

He says the city needs at least 1.5 million sachets if it is to ensure that its 500 000 poorest residents can bath at least three times a week.

His idea is to supply these at the  water collection points the city plans to set up should it activate a plan to switch off taps on “Day Zero” when dam levels drop to 13.5%. Currently Day Zero is set for early April.

After he contacted the city last year with the proposal, Marishane was in December referred to the Western Cape government’s Department of Economic Affairs and Tourism.

A gel which can be used as a substitute to showering, can therefore save the city millions of litres of water if the city goes ahead and orders millions of sachets

He said the department today signed an agreement with DryBath Pty Ltd to buy 30 000 sachets which he added would be the equivalent of saving 1.2 million litres of water. The department would distribute the sachets at a sporting event as a way to promote water saving, he said.

“The fact that I’ve gotten no calls outside the Western Cape is worrying,” he says.

Meanwhile Marishane has received a number of requests for quotes from big companies — including a leading local franchiser and a hotel — that intend supplying the sachets to their staff.

He says the product will soon be available in all Clicks stores, while a number of other local retailers have contacted the company to look at taking orders.

Minimum of R50 000 needed for campaign

Headboy Industries’s crowdfunding campaign for Dry Bath will run for 60 days. The project will be funded if at least R50 000 is pledged before 31 March 2018.

Marishane says the campaign is aimed at securing local customers, as currently most customers who buy the product are from overseas.

The idea is to be able to bring down the price of the product which is currently billed at R50 a sachet. By purchasing DryBath through this campaign, customers will get a 50% discount off the normal price available on Headboy Industries’s website.

Marishane admits that the price point of the product has been a challenge, adding that the Angolan government even took difference at the product being billed at R4 a sachet, he added. The high cost is largely attributable to the packaging, he says.

The product has been available since 2014. Currently 80% of the product is bought by customers from the US, Europe and Asia through the company’s website, the remainder of sales is made up of institutional clients such as the UN.

Editor’s note (30/01/2018): Ventureburn received a message from Headboy Industries founder Luckwick Marishane that the government contract he signed yesterday is between DryBath Pty Ltd and the Department of Department of Economic Development and Tourism, not headboy industries. “The Western Cape purchase was with DryBath Pty Ltd (not Headboy, or a subsidiary of headboy), it’s site and branding go live next week.” Ventureburn regrets the errors. 

Marishane furthermore claims in a detailed comment below this story that his comment “talking to a wall” was directed at the Department of Water and Sanitation and not the city or provincial department.

He says the 30 000 sachets order made by the department makes the Western Cape provincial government “the biggest single supporter of the #DryDaysChallenge campaign we launched” and adds that their order has already helped the company to reach half of its R1-million target.

  • Ludwick Marishane

    As the subject of this story, I have to correct some uincorrect information (which I’ve been ignored in attempting to have corrected urgently):
    The Western Cape Government (and by extension, The City) are the biggest single supporter of the #DryDaysChallenge campaign we launched (their order already helped us reach half our R1mil target!). As much as it’s a drop in the ocean, I expressed that it’s probably to test our reliability since this is the first time we’re ever supplying government. I said my biggest worry is only getting the order for millions of units at a later stage when time is eroded.
    City/DEDAT responded to my mails & requested quotes within days (so no “talking to a wall”, that comment was about DWS), and it’s the lengthy admin process that was involved in closing the sale that frustrated my team (they were balancing their budgets).

    The Western Cape purchase was with DryBath Pty Ltd (not Headboy, or a subsidiary of headboy), it’s site & branding go live next week.
    The author and I discussed other customers and retailers (agreeing not to name them in the article because there’s nothing signed yet), so I don’t know why Clicks is mentioned.
    The DWS took a meeting with us early last year, and felt there was no need for them to back/endorse the product at that time of national drought.
    The Angolan government rejected a R2,5/sachet price, not R4.

    I understand some errors were a consequence of an erroneous press release sent out by Thundafund without having us proof-read it.
    When I approached the author about the tone & facts of the article, he argued that journalistic integrity doesn’t require him to send articles to subjects for fact-checking or pre-reading.

    The aim of our campaign is not to complain about government, but rather to enable society to help themselves. I grew up in a community that still gets little to no running water, and people there will barely afford DryBath at a price of R5/wash. To make it cheap for them, I’m counting on the campaign gaining enough support from Cape Townians with spending power, thus tapping into local economies of scale. Waiting for government is not an option when it comes to water, I’ve learned that since childhood.

    • itumeleng baepane

      Hi There Ludwick, will i be able to reach you through contacting the 021 number on your website? Im doing a story on dry bath and would like to speak to you as the founder.