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Solar-Powered Inventions for the Developing World
August 16, 2011
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Inventor Steve Katsaros is trying to change the world for the better, using the power of the sun. Katsaros has two inventions on the market that he hopes will reduce reliance on fossil fuels in developing countries, while creating business opportunities for the people living there.

Katsaros' company, Nokero (short for "No Kerosene") sells a solar-powered light bulb that may well make a big impact on the 1.4 billion people worldwide who don't have access to an electrical grid. At the moment, many households that don't have access to electrical power use kerosene lamps, which are dirty and inefficient. Nokero bulbs are entirely solar powered, creating no air pollution and offering clean light.

At the same time, Nokero is pushing an affordable solar phone charger, to serve the 500 million cell phone owners around the world who don't have access to electricity. The pocket-sized charger, which comes in 1- and 2-watt models, will charge an average phone in 3 hours and 1.5 hours, respectively. Katsaros says "we've heard stories of villagers traveling by foot and by boat, sometimes for days, to reach a place where they can charge their phones."

Although the primary market for both products is the developing world, the bulbs and the phone chargers will be sold, rather than donated. Katsaros hopes that this will give impoverished individuals the opportunity to become businesspeople in their own right - the company is marketing "business in a box kits" in Tanzania and Kenya, with 144 bulbs, displays and flyers, allowing locals to start selling Nokero's solar lights to their peers.

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