Solar lamps: A well-lit pathway out of poverty
Selling solar lamps to impoverished families is how Brian Rants serves God — and brightens the world.
Our Take: When Brian Rant graduated from Grace College in 2001 he envisioned himself making a difference as pastor, not as a businessman. But after a decade of working for churches and nonprofits, he found business enterprise effectively improving the lives of the poor around the world. "The world changes by people doing workwhatever that work might bewith all their heart and might," he says. "That's not God's Plan B. That's plan A. ... I began to discover how God made me. And I realized I am not a creative, entrepreneurial person by accident, but by design."
Brian Rants never thought his contribution to the world would be a $15 lamp. But for schoolchildren in Swaziland and earthquake survivors in Haiti, these solar lamps have made all the difference. Rants's Denver-based companyNokero, short for "no kerosene"have allowed African students to read at night and increased safety for Haitian families living in tent cities. As vice president of marketing, Rants's job is to get these lamps into the hands of millions of families in the developing world.
Since its founding in 2010, Nokero has sold over half a million solar lights and chargers in 120 countries, but Rants believes their work has just begun. With over a billion people worldwide still using kerosene as their primary fuel source, the need is vast. In a comprehensive study on the industry, The Economist lauded solar lights as the next big innovation for the world's poor, noting that solar lighting is "falling in price, improving in quality and benefiting from new business models that make it more accessible and affordable to those at the bottom of the pyramid. And its spread is sustainable because it is being driven by market forces, not charity."
Nokero's lamps replace the need for kerosene lighting and eliminate the sweeping problems that accompany its use. Annually, over 1.5 million people die from complications arising from indoor air pollution. Over a million of these deaths are from kerosene fires. When individuals live with kerosene lamps, they experience the same health effects of smoking 40 cigarettes a day.
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