World’s first sustainable smartphone company Fairphone raises €49M
With an ethos of doing right by people and the planet, Fairphone is on a mission to create a fairer and more sustainable electronics industry. After raising €49M in funding in January, this Amsterdam-founded company is looking forward to developing new products and accelerating the integration of sustainable and recycled materials.
Setting new standards for the technology industry
In 2013, a crowdfunding campaign ignited a movement to produce a smartphone that is built to last with materials that are fairly and sustainably sourced. 10 years later, Fairphone is redefining how electronics are made - from ensuring fair wages and working conditions across the value chain to incorporating a sleek modular design with parts that can be easily repaired and recycled instead of thrown away.
This B-Corp certified company now employs more than 70 people from 20 different countries. Instead of encouraging frequent upgrades, Fairphone prefers to keep the focus on extending the life of the over 100,000 devices out there.
“Using your phone for longer is the biggest impact you can currently make in terms of sustainability," says Fairphone CEO Eva Gouwens. “An average device is now used for about 2 to 3 years, we want to extend that to 5 years. And so we support software for longer, we give a 5 year warranty and the device is modular. If you have a broken screen, you can order a new one in the webshop and easily replace it yourself. And with the Fairphone 2 and 3 we launched separate, improved cameras, so you couldn't upgrade the entire device, but only the camera.”
€49 million to help further development
The Amsterdam-based company closed out the month of January by announcing that it had secured €49M in funding – €20M from the government-funded impact investment group InvestNL, and the rest from the Dutch bank ABN Amro’s Sustainable Impact Fund and other investors. This capital will help Fairphone settle existing loans and enable some current shareholders exit. It will also help fuel product research and development, increasing the sourcing of sustainable materials and helping to facilitate a better customer experience.
Principal at InvestNL Elisabeth Storm de Grave says, “We are excited to support Fairphone’s growth ambitions as a true circular ‘lighthouse case’ within the electronics industry. With its approach to making ethical products that put both people and the planet at the heart of Fairphone, Fairphone is setting new standards for the entire industry.”
Taking thinking green mainstream
For many years, Fairphone appealed to customers who placed more value on sustainability and ethical practices than features and performance. However with this most recent cash injection, the company hopes to be able to appeal to a greater market by garnering more awareness with improved products.
Jeroen Elkhuizen, CEO of phone store Belsimpel, shared his observations in a recent de Volkskrant article: “Sustainability is playing an increasingly important role. The innovation in smartphone land has levelled off in recent years, but at Fairphone the price-quality ratio is getting better and better. With this investment there is money for campaigns for the general public, and the Fairphone 5 is also in the pipeline.”
Amsterdam is taking the lead in sustainable action
Fairphone's ethos is a perfect fit for Amsterdam's business ecosystem. With a reputation for innovation and initiatives in ethical technology, Amsterdam is a top European city for tech startups. This unique business environment connects the city’s thriving sectors with major academic and research institutions as well as government funded initiatives that help develop technology in a way that betters society.