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Fairphone, ethical smartphone launched

May 24

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24/05/2013 11:00  RssIcon

So, what makes it fair?

Guest blog from Tessa Wernink, of Fairphone.



Fairphone: Buy a phone, start a movement from Fairphone on Vimeo. Twitter: @Fairphone


This week, at Fairphone, we opened pre-orders of our first handset, a smartphone that will be produced by putting people and the environment first. To start production, we need to sell 5,000 devices before 14th June. We’re almost half way!

Our hopes are that our crowdfunding campaign will prove that there is real customer demand for a product that focuses on improving social and environmental conditions, over and above merely improving technological ones, while connecting consumers in new ways with the people and communities behind their products from the Congolese mines, the Chinese factory floor to the use a reuse example.

Of course, you at the ethical consumer know this, but to stay independent as a social enterprise and make the next step on our mission of changing the way products are made, we need to reach the people, like you, who want to be a part of this movement.

Although we are fully aware there are a lot more steps to take before we achieve a 100% fair phone (if attainable at all in a world where ‘fair’ is a relative concept), and it will take commitment and hard work from multiple stakeholders we feel that we have made significant steps toward creating a fairer phone and opening up transparency in the supply chain.

We always get the question: “So, what makes it fair?” an important question for buyers and you can read answer below, but we feel that the more important question is, what have we achieved, in terms of starting a movement for change?


Our answer to the first question:

Fairphone’s first handset will contain conflict-free minerals, tin and tantallum from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and be made in a factory where a specially established fund in development will ensure living wages are distributed amongst workers. We will provide transparency about its bill of materials, its costs breakdown and its first-tier suppliers.

The phone’s design will feature Dual SIM capability, a replaceable battery and a rootable operating system. Taking into consideration the full lifespan of the product, we have joined existing e-waste programs, have a phone sell back program and offer spare parts of all crucial components through our sales channels.

As for the achievements concerning the supply chain, Fairphone started three years ago as a campaign aimed at creating more awareness around the abuses in the supply chain of electronics. Since then, we have created powerful partnerships, are collaborating with experts, NGOs and other civil society organizations in the field and have joined amazing initiatives where we share best practices.

Everyday, we connect with more people who are willing to share their knowledge, be disruptive and question old hackneyed models. We are deeply humbled by the considerable engagement from a diverse set of stakeholders and the support from our active, critical, but positive community.

Over 17,000 people subscribed for a phone before we opened sales and our communities on our social media double every 4 months. More than two thirds of them cast their vote on the poll we set out on the final design of the phone.

The journey is the destination at Fairphone and our travelling companions are making every port of call worthwhile. The phone can be a catalyst for change and even within my own group of friends, I see how it is a vehicle to talk about greater economic systems and how they no longer suit our values of access, sharing and meaning. But to change things, we need to understand how the system works and to understand how the system works, we need to open it up. By actually making a phone, we have the opportunity to do this.

Fairphone’s road map toward creating a fairer phone is exactly this: we use the phone as a storytelling artifact. It makes it possible to open up the supply chain, understand it, and take action in order to create lasting, systemic change.

The phone costs €325, including taxes. Profits will fund future interventions in the supply chain, funding a progressive model for change. If you, or people in your circle of friends want to support our campaign, please go to Buy a phone, start a movement.


Read more about Fairphone's crowdfunded model.



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