Bringing solar light bulbs to the world one local vendor at a time

It started with such a simple concept: A solar light bulb that charges up during the day and lights the night when the sun sets. Inventor Steve Katsaros perfected his design in June 2010, and four days later he had a patent in hand.

“It wasn’t until after we created it that we asked ourselves, ‘How do we market this,'” Katsaros says. “And we learned that the largest market was the developing world.”

As Katsaros began researching markets in developing countries, he began to realize that his solar light bulb could potentially make a huge impact on the 1.4 billion people around the world who don’t have access to an electrical grid. Many use fuel lamps that burn kerosene, which is costly, dirty and can also be unhealthy.

He dubbed his company Nokero — short for “No Kerosene” — and set out to get his bulbs into as many hands a possible in the developing world…

Katsaros sells “business in a box” kits that entrepreneurs in Kenya and Tanzania can sell to villages at a profit…144 bulbs along with displays and fliers. Would-be entrepreneurs can go village-to-village selling the bulbs and establishing a network of customers.

In the future, Katsaros hope to use this budding network to distribute new solar products to further help people who live away from the power grid.

Being a for-profit company also allows Katsaros to keep working on new ideas without being tempted to move to a high paying corporate job.

Yeah, we could cash out at some point, but there’s really no reason for that,” he says. “We have a healthy company, we have good people working, and we’re improving the lives of a lot of people already. We’re happy.”

RTFA. Lots of background, detail. Katsaros is bright enough to have discovered the principles best exemplified in the States by the Rocky Mountain Institute, e.g., you can be the most altruistic person/collective in the world; but, the easiest way to lead people down more economic and ecologically-friendly streets is to allow them to make money – or save money.