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Sustainable smartphones firm Fairphone attracts €49m from impact investors

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Published: 1 February 2023

The funding came from an investor consortium led by Invest-NL, ABN Amro Sustainable Impact Fund and Quadia and will help the Dutch company to expand its business, finance product development and scale up impact

Fairphone manufactures smartphones products which lasts longer, from ethically-sourced materials | Photo by Fairphone

Fairphone has received an investment of €49m from a consortium led by Invest-NL, ABN AMRO Sustainable Impact Fund and Quadia to help the Dutch-based sustainable smartphone firm  accelerate growth and settle existing loans.  

ABN AMRO Sustainable Impact Fund and Invest-NL – a publicly funded development institution – are new investors in Fairphone, while Swiss-based impact investor Quadia is an existing shareholder. They are joined in the investment by other existing shareholders DALHAP, DOEN Participaties and PDENH. 

Fairphone was founded as a social enterprise in 2013 and is now on the fourth iteration of its smartphone. It seeks to serve as an example of how electronics manufacturing can be done more sustainably and fairly, by attempting to ensure its supply chain from the mine to  the manufacturer and on to the consumer meets strict environmental and social standards, and that working conditions are improved where necessary. 

The company, which mainly sells its phones in Europe, had revenues of almost €37m in 2021.   

Fairphone says the investment will allow the company to finance product development and scale impact. As Eva Gouwens, Fairphone’s CEO, told Impact Investor in a 2022 interview: “Scaling up is the main priority as it would dramatically increase the company’s ability to negotiate with suppliers and ensure more changes in fair sourcing”   

The funding will also be used to accelerate integration of “fair” and recycled materials in the firm’s product portfolio and create further awareness around fairness and sustainability in the electronics industry. 

In addition, the investment will be used to cover settlement of existing loans and the partial exit of current shareholders, including Dutch impact investment cooperative Pymwymic and more than 1,000 crowdfunders. 

Fairphone’s approach to creating ethical products with both people and planet in mind, set new standards for the industry, according to Elisabeth Storm de Grave, principal at Invest-NL. 

“Together, we are disrupting a short-term way of thinking that the world can no longer afford, creating a sustainable and fair future for all stakeholders,” she said. 

Hanna Zwietering, investment manager at the ABN AMRO Sustainable Impact Fund, said the company had proven it could develop high-quality modular and fair smartphones in most competitive markets. 

“Consumers love the Fairphone for impact and quality alike, in line with a growing trend towards conscious consumer behaviour,” Zwietering said. 

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