Fairphone, a social enterprise and modular smartphone producer spurring a paradigm shift in the technology industry, has secured €6.5 million to scale up its mission to make fair, responsible electronics mainstream. The investment will enable Fairphone to continue innovating in the areas of material sourcing, production, distribution, recycling and product longevity.
In the short time since its launch four years ago, Fairphone has released two distinct generations of smartphones and grown to a community of over 135,000 Fairphone owners. What’s more, Fairphone achieved the first-ever Fairtrade-certified gold supply chain for consumer electronics, has received top reparability scores from iFixit for its products and has successfully managed to transparently source all four of the conflict materials (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) used in its smartphones.
Investments will equip the company to meet a growing demand for fairer electronics and expand its European distribution network. Scaling up production volumes will also allow Fairphone to increase its influence in the supply chain and unlock more opportunities to source fair materials, innovate on long-lasting design, negotiate for better working conditions and pioneer new business models for reuse and recycling.
“In line with our ambitions to raise the bar in the electronics industry, we aim to increase our leverage with electronics suppliers to negotiate a healthier, more future-proof supply chain. This touches on a variety of issues, including the availability and lifespan of electronic components, the sourcing of Fairtrade gold and improving working conditions. By bringing these principles to the table, we can inspire an entire system change,” said Bas van Abel, founder and CEO of Fairphone.
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For its latest round of investment, Fairphone sought out investors who aligned with its social and environmental ambitions. Pymwymic Impact Investing Cooperative and DOEN Participaties were natural fits.
Pymwymic (Put Your Money Where Your Meaning Is Community) is Europe’s oldest impact investing group and over the last two decades has invested over €50 million of seed and growth capital in more than 60 companies. In 2016, the group established the Impact Investing Cooperative to unite mission-aligned families, family foundations and selected individual investors. The cooperative aims to positive impact one billion people over the next 10 years. Its first thematic sub-fund, Pymwymic Healthy Ecosystems Impact Fund, focuses on disruptive and innovative business models that restore and conserve our ecosystems. Fairphone was selected as the fund’s very first investment.
“We seek companies that can be disruptive to the sector they operate in. For Fairphone, driving this impact is truly in their DNA. Their efforts create radical transparency in the industry regarding current flaws in the system,” said Rogier Pieterse, Managing Partner of Pymwymic.
Established in 1991 by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, DOEN Participaties, the investment of the DOEN Foundation, invests in innovative companies that are working towards a sustainable, socially inclusive and creative society. DOEN Foundation supported Fairphone in its early days, providing capital to help the organization transition from an awareness campaign to a company in 2013 and the latest investment reiterates the group’s commitment to help Fairphone expand its reach.
“Fairphone’s story aligns well with DOEN’s goal for a circular economy. As a pioneer in its sector, Fairphone is playing a significant part in making the market for consumer electronics more sustainable as a whole. We are very pleased that DOEN can play an important role in the company’s next phase,” said Jasper Snoek, CFO of the DOEN Foundation.