A Well-Lit Pathway Out of Poverty
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 company—Nokero, 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.
When Rants graduated from Grace College in 2001 with a Bible degree in hand, he didn't want to "settle" by pursuing a business career. A decade later, Rants works at a for-profit company.
"I am very surprised to find myself in business," Rants says. "Business seemed to be a backup plan to being a missionary. Or being a pastor like I thought I would be. It seemed like businesspeople were just 'extras' in God's story, rather than lead or even supporting actors."