The Fairphone case examines the emergence of and challenges facing start-up social enterprise, Fairphone, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Founded by industrial designer, Bas van Abel in January 2013, with a mission to “produce a seriously cool smartphone putting social values first,” Fairphone aimed to: (1) produce a competitively-priced, aesthetically-appealing, mid-range smartphone that would rival any in its price category; and (2) to do so in a way that ameliorated the dark side of the mobile phone industry—use of conflict minerals, poor working conditions in East Asian factories, and electronic (e)-waste dumped in developing countries. At incorporation in January 2013, the company had no phone, no distribution network, and no customer; none of the founding employees had experience in the mobile phone industry. By February 2014, however, van Abel and the Fairphone staff had produced and delivered 25,000 “fair” smartphones to customers in 32 countries. Having taken its first steps, van Abel felt that Fairphone had to scale up production to become a “real” company in order to fulfill its dual mission. How should Fairphone reach a larger audience with its message and product? How should the organisation be designed in order to achieve this dual mission?

, , , , , , ,
RSM Case Development Centre

Based on field research; 24 pages.
Follow the 'handle' link to access the Case Study on RePub.
For EUR staff members: the Teaching Note is available on request, you can contact us at
For external users: follow the link to purchase the Case Study and the Teaching Note.

Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Akemu, O., & Whiteman, G. (2016). Fairphone: Organising for Sustained Social Impact. RSM Case Development Centre. Retrieved from