A good idea, a network and a vision were everything that three young guys from the Netherlands had, three years ago. It went against their grain that smartphones were made under the worst conditions, workers were exploited and children were employed in production. That’s why Bas van Abel, Gabriel Sebastian and Miquel Ballester aim to make a fair smartphone, the fair Phone.
But their first step was not to one of the major manufacturers. In the spirit of networking and transparency they got themselves to work, without a company and money. One of the challenges that had to make the Fair Phone team itself, was the sourcing of the raw materials from which a smartphone is built.
And what’s in such a phone, is pretty amazing: coltan, ore, cobalt, tin, gold, and a lot more. Brought via the conventional way of mining in Africa, which are partly in rebel hands, have inhuman working conditions and finance wars.
The fair-phone manufacturer could not avoid taking a closer look. Finally, they decided, among other things, for a mine in the Congo, where the tin should come out of. But then there the conflict flared up again, it was murdered and plundered. “We faced a choice: Either we are leaving and ensure that there will jobs be lost and the region will probably still get more unstable, or we stay and make a small contribution to stabilization”, Bas van Abel says in an interview of “Süddeutsche Zeitung“.
These and many more challenges faced the now nine-member team, to realize their vision. They are often pushed to their limits and know now: producing a 100 percent fair smartphone is impossible. But their initiative is a step in the right direction. Because even when there was nothing except an idea they have already raised awareness in many people’s heads and encouraged them to think about the origins of their equipment.
In order to reach the right people and producers, the Dutch set on networking. They have teamed up with other initiatives to make all their manufacturers steps transparently on their website.
Meanwhile, everything is organized, fair Phone is ready to be produced, provided that the interest is high enough. That it seems to be: the goal of 5000 pre-orders until mid-June, is within reach. Because the Fair Phone team relies on the collective interest: crowdfunding.
Only if enough customers have ensured to buy the device, that by the way costs 325 euros, the production gets started. A great idea that is by the way not new, and everyone who has a good product, can use it for oneself. And the Fair Phone seems to be one. Currently there is a new order every 15 minutes. And right now the big companies knock on the door of the Dutch. KPN, a Dutch telecommunications provider, has reportedly already bought 1000 pieces.
What was considered to be impossible in the beginning three Dutch have done: producing their own smartphone and that as fair as possible at the moment.
What we and others can learn from it: is possible to realize ones ideas if these are good; without possessing a capital base and great company. In addition, the Fair Phone proves that even on high-tech products such as mobile phones or notebooks there mustn’t stick any blood, but they can be made sustainable.