Originally a campaign to raise awareness about the supply chain of electronics, Fairphone evolved into a smartphone social enterprise.
The company explains:
Initially, we decided to set up our formal organizational structure as an NGO (non-governmental organization). We soon realized however that, despite share values of creating social impact, the NGO structure was not a perfect model to choose. Around the same time, we had been in talks with operators, who were willing to support us on both our mission and the sales and there were an increasing amount of people asking us when the phone would hit the market, so they could buy it. “Wow!”, we thought, but also “mmm, what now”.
Realizing that it would be easier to market the product and generate revenue to fund the long-term mission, becoming “a ‘real’ company made more sense”. So with the help of the Waag Society and seed investment from an investor, Fairphone launched three years ago.
After a crowdfunding campaign from May to June to start mass production with 5,000 phones, the Dutch company managed to double sales with almost 10,000 phones sold within that period. So they decided to produce 20,000 phones this year (then raised to 25,000), with over 14,000 already sold.
The company just announced that the phones will be delivered to customers in December.
Prized as an ethical phone, Fairphone is cautious to produce a phone with conflict-free materials and to be transparent with their work. For instance, customers were briefed through blog posts regarding concerns about the phone being produced by a manufacturer in China, A’Hong, who has factories in Shenzhen and Chongqing.
To date, the phones are only sold in Europe and through their website, but plans are to expand into retail in 2014.
Photo courtesy of Fairphone.
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