Amsterdam-based social enterprise is producing another batch of Fairphones to fund initiatives for fairer sourcing and production.
Fairphone recently opened its redesigned online shop to the public to start taking orders for its second batch of 35,000 Fairphones. Fairphones are Android-powered smartphones that apply social values and the principles of open design to influence fairer sourcing and production practices. By pre-paying for their phones, buyers help fund the production of the phone itself, as well as allow Fairphone to remain independent and invest in new and ongoing initiatives that work towards a fairer economy.
35,000 phones being produced; 6,150 already sold
Fairphone started as a campaign within Waag Society to increase consumer awareness about conflict-minerals in mobile phones. The campaign took on a life of its own, and in 2013 Fairphone became an independent social enterprise. The organization decided that the best way to truly understand the components, sourcing and processes that went into mobile phone production (and to influence change) was to become part of the industry and create a new smartphone.
In May 2013, Fairphone launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance the production of the first Fairphones. The initial batch of 25,000 phones sold out in 6 months, and ever since, members of Fairphone’s enthusiastic community have voiced their interest in owning a Fairphone. In order to estimate how many people really wanted to buy a phone, Fairphone created a second batch buyers list that people could register for online. By the end of last week, that list had grown to 50,000+ interested buyers.
In April 2014, Fairphone confirmed their intention to produce 35,000 more Fairphones. The second batch Fairphone is nearly identical to those produced last year. In order to give the Fairphone community an exclusive opportunity to order their phones before the general public, members of the second batch buyers list received an email two days ago with a special link to the online shop. 6,150 Fairphones were already sold by the time the online shop was publicly launched on the Fairphone website two days ago.
The second batch Fairphones will go into production from mid June to August. The phones will be delivered to buyers in batches rolling out in July and expected to last till September.
Funding new and on-going initiatives that support a fairer economy
When buyers order a Fairphone, they are helping to cover the costs of the phones’ production in advance. Their purchase also allows Fairphone to continue to operate as an independent social enterprise. Not relying on external capital enables the organization to stay true to its social mission.
In addition, the funds raised from selling both the previous and current batch of Fairphones support the organization’s ongoing initiatives to open up and positively impact production processes as a whole. Currently, Fairphone works with the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative and Solutions for Hope to source traceable, conflict-free minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It also works with Closing the Loop to reclaim e-waste from Ghana and ship it to Belgium for safe recycling. In China, Fairphone is establishing a Worker Welfare Fund at their production facility to improve working conditions, work/life balance and worker representation. Fairphone will continue to support these projects, as well as invest in new interventions that will be incorporated into the next generation Fairphone, which will launch in 2015.
Expanding the market for fairly-produced electronics
Fairphone’s ultimate goal is to uncover the processes that go into production and stimulate discussion about what ‘fair’ really means. By selling Fairphones, the organization is growing the market for fairer electronics. Its hope is to motivate the entire industry to collaborate on a new approach to doing business.
Fairphone uncovers complex systems to change how things are made. By creating a smartphone, we’re opening up the supply chain, building new relationships between people and their products and starting conversations about what is truly fair. We’re leading by example to expand the market for products that put ethical values first. It’s not just a phone, it’s a movement.