Lights On




Nokera inventor Steve Katsaros in Pakistan. Photo: Cheyenne Ellis Nokera inventor Steve Katsaros in Pakistan. Photo: Cheyenne Ellis


While the bulb gains popularity among Colombia’s poor, the same is happening in other countries where there are remote areas without modern services, including Swaziland, Haiti and Mexico. It appears to be a safer and more economical choice then the kerosene lamps and candles most impoverished families have been using.

This is not a fringe market. An estimated two billion people around the world live “off the grid,” or without a consistent supply of electrical power, according to a report in The New York Times.

Of course, they work when the electricity fails, too. Nokera bulbs were recently dispatched to the earthquake zone in eastern Turkey.

But the bulbs also have the potential to boost local economies, says  Tom Boyd, public relations manager for Nokero International. Vendors such as Gonzalez make a profit from selling bulbs they buy in bulk. Customers save money over time on the bulbs, which can be re-charged for five to 10 years.

Vendors pay $999 for a BizBox, including about $8 for each bulb. For someone like Gonzalez, who converted his garage into a small store to supplement his income, sale of the bulbs can be a significant income boost.




Garage Hub

In fact, the Gonzalez garage store has become a hub for Nokero, according to Rich Mitchell, executive director of The PIER Institute, an organization that establishes connections between disadvantaged communities and businesses seeking a foothold in emerging economies.

It seems the Bizbox is one good way to start.

Gonzalez, who says he’s drawn to marginalized communities, is excited to be a part of Nokero’s goal to spread solar living.  “It’s worth promoting Nokero bulbs in our countries,” says Gonzalez, “and taking them to areas that need not only the light of God but also physical light.”