Mark Shuttleworth is as renowned for his entrepreneurial vision and IT innovations as he is for his social efforts, most notably to uplift South African education on a big scale. His unwavering determination to travel into space also saw him become the world’s second self-funded private citizen to travel into orbit.

Did you know?

The 'HBD' in Mark Shuttleworth's company, HBD Venture Capital, stands for 'Here Be Dragons', an ancient reference to territory that was marked as unexplored.

Mark Shuttleworth is an inspirational man who fuelled the imagination of a nation and the world. He made history when he became the first African to fly into space in 2002.

Now a philanthropist, Shuttleworth is dedicated to improving access to quality education in South Africa.

Shuttleworth's interest in technology began as a child when he started playing computer games; this peaked as a student with the advent of the internet. It was when studying for a business science degree in finance that he began investigating the impact of the internet.

In 1999, in his final year of study, he founded an internet consulting firm, Thawte, which went on to produce the first-ever full-security encrypted e-commerce web server that was commercially available outside the United States. The product gained incredible international support and was recognised as the fastest-growing global internet certificate authority (digital certificates) when it was sold to VeriSign four years later.

He became a billionaire overnight, and instead of pocketing his wealth, he invested millions into education, venture capital and open-source operating systems.

Shuttleworth's path to greatness continued – he went on to form HBD Venture Capital, which invests in local South African companies with potential global reach, as well as the non-profit organisation, the Shuttleworth Foundation, which aims to improve access to and the quality of education in this country.

In 2002, Shuttleworth literally reached for the stars when he became the first African in space and only the second private citizen to self-fund such a journey. He fulfilled his lifetime dream after training for a year, seven months of which were spent at Russia's Star City at the Yuri A Gagarin State Scientific Research and Testing Cosmonaut Training Centre. 

He was part of the Soyuz TM-34 crew that visited the International Space Station, where he conducted various scientific research experiments.

Two years later, Shuttleworth founded the Ubuntu project, which produces top-quality operating systems supported by the latest software, freely available across the globe.

Shuttleworth is a passionate South African whose achievements have not only captivated this nation, but helped to nurture an interest in science and technology among young Shuttleworths of the future.

South Africa remains his home, even though he now lives on the Isle of Man. His 'likes' include lime marmalade, coming home, Clifton, the African bush, leopards, Clifton and skinny-dipping.