Fairphone’s mission is to bring a fair smartphone to the market – one made entirely of parts produced and utilised without harming individuals or the environment. Fairphone as a product evolved from an open design project started at Waag Society and in a step-by-step process develops the first fair smartphone.
Fairphone focuses not only on the graphic and technical design of fair telephones. It also works to increase the market demand for fair phones and studies, illuminates and avoids situations that would hinder the fair use of fair phones. Situations such as the hazardous working conditions and the low pay of mine workers in Congo. Fairphone wants to change the supply chain and the way the industry works, little by little. It will not bring the fairest phone from the beginning, but aims at making specific interventions and set a roadmap for future interventions in latter stages of the venture.
Why fair mobile phones?
Consumers should at least be able to have the choice of purchasing a fair mobile phone, but at the moment that choice is not available. Nor are there fair versions of laptops, MP3 players or portable game consoles. The most common argument used by the consumer electronics industry as to why there are no certified fair electronic products is that the production chain is too complicated and insufficiently transparent. The industry claims that it cannot even monitor activities three steps back in its own chain, and has absolutely no insight into the route from mines in Africa to the processing facilities and production plants in Asia. Above all this, it is often mistakingly stated that consumers do not care for responsible products.
The people behind Fairphone know that it is possible to gain that insight. And getting consumers excited about it is key in the process.
Initiator and director of Fairphone is Bas van Abel. He is an active member of the international maker and digital fabrication community. With a background in interaction design and a personal interest in electronics, Bas has worked on many projects both as a designer and technical engineer for Waag Society. He is co-editor of the book Open Design Now, which seeks to transform design into an open and shared discipline that creates a diversity of innovative products through a collaborative and world-spanning process.
Fairphone is supported by Waag Society, Schrijf-Schrijf, ActionAid, Stichting Doen, Vodafone, Bethnal Green Ventures, KPN, Rabo Mobiel, GSM RetourPlan, GSM Loket, Podio and many other organizations and individuals that put time and effort in leveraging the potential of Fairphone.