Fairphone, pioneer of eco-responsible smartphones, raises 49 million euros

Fairphone, pioneer of eco-responsible smartphones, raises 49 million euros

Posted Feb 1 2023 at 02:03 PMUpdated Feb 1. 2023 at 02:10 PM

A pioneer of the eco-responsible smartphone whose perseverance is rewarded. On Tuesday, the Dutch manufacturer Fairphone announced that it had raised 49 million euros, its biggest fundraising since its launch ten years ago.

This round table was completed by an international consortium of investors committed to “impact tech”, led by Invest-NL, the “Dutch Bpifrance”, the Sustainable Impact fund of the Dutch bank ABN Amro, and the fund Swiss Quadia. The historical shareholders Dalhap, Doen and Pdenh also returned to the pot.

Do more on sustainability and improve customer service

Part of the amount raised will be earmarked for the repayment of several loans and the exit of certain shareholders, in particular the impact fund Pymwymic Investment and 1,000 private investors who supported the company via crowdfunding in 2018. At the time, Fairphone had raised a total of 22.5 million euros, including 13.5 million in debt.

The other part of this new cash line will be devoted to the development of its products, the firm wishing to integrate more fair trade and recycled materials into its smartphones . The money will also go towards improving Fairphone’s customer service, with the aim of its users keeping their devices even longer and finding solutions more easily in the event of a breakdown. Finally, the nugget will invest in a major communication campaign, intended in particular to promote the Fairphone 4, its latest model, compatible with 5G and available from 579 euros.

“With a growing base of investors aligned with our mission, we will continue to raise awareness for fairer electronics and accelerate our business growth and impact,” summarizes Eva Gouwens, CEO of Fairphone, quoted in a statement .

Jump in sales in 2022

Although the company claims to be profitable, this new cash raising shows that it still needs support to finance its growth. Even if the confidence of its new investors encourages a very real positive economic trajectory.

Since its launch, Fairphone has sold nearly 500,000 units, including 120,000 last year. The French market captures around 20% of its sales and the German market half. The company claims a turnover of around 40 million euros in 2021. That of the year 2022 has not yet been communicated, but the Dutch company already claims to have seen its sales jump by 35%. Last year.

According to the brand’s French spokesperson, interviewed in the magazine “We Demain” last November, Fairphone is aiming for 200,000 units sold in 2023. A drop of water in the 1.2 billion smartphones sold last year worldwide (down from 2021), according to IDC.

Knowing that it is a pioneer in a market segment that is still construction, the brand has always avoided comparison with industry giants such as Apple or Samsung . “Fairphone sets new standards for the entire industry. 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,” said Elisabeth Storm de Grave, director at Dutch public bank Invest- NL.

One of the toughest smartphones on the market

Originally, Fairphone is a documentary project made in 2010 on the minerals needed to manufacture smartphones. Particularly in certain regions of Africa plagued by armed conflict. In 2013, the audiovisual work turned into a start-up, with the ambition of manufacturing truly “ethical” mobile phones. The idea: source more responsible mining materials from suppliers who respect the working conditions of their employees.

The result is a smartphone that is more resistant over time and whose essential parts can be changed or repaired (screen, batteries, headphone jack, camera, etc.). Components can be purchased directly from Fairphone’s website and the phone’s warranty is five years.

Audacious, this approach makes the manufacture of telephones more expensive, with technical performance often considered below the big brands. If the company has often conceded this criticism, it claims to have improved on this aspect. In particular with the release of its Fairphone 4, which embeds a chip from the subcontractor Qualcomm (clocked at 2.2 Ghz), whose reputation is second to none. The brand also highlights the repairability index of its smartphones, higher than those of the leaders Samsung and Apple ​, according to many specialized sites.

According to an estimate by IDC, in 2022, 282.6 million used smartphones were sold worldwide. That is 10.3% more than in 2021. A trend that bodes well for the Dutch manufacturer.

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