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Good Business

Fairphone wins 2024 Koning Willem-I Prize

Good Business

Fairphone is a Dutch social enterprise. And for a Dutch social enterprise, it doesn’t get bigger than this.

Fairphone is proud, honored and beyond thrilled to have won the prestigious Koning Willem I Sustainable Entrepreneurship Plaque for 2024. The award is a testament to our steadfast mission to right the wrongs of the electronics industry, and show customers, the industry, our peers and regulators that there is a better way, a fairer way to manufacturing tech. A way that is fairer to the planet and to the people, both behind the screens and in front of them.

WHAT ARE THE KONING WILLEM I AWARDS?

Named after King Willem I, the first king of the Netherlands, the awards are the most prestigious business accolade in the Netherlands, recognizing courageous, resilient and sustainable leadership. It has been awarded in various categories every two years since 1958. Awarded by the Koning Willem I Foundation and supported by the Dutch Ministries of Infrastructure and Water Management, and Economic Affairs and Climate, the overall aim of the awards is to recognize ‘good and healthy entrepreneurship for Dutch prosperity’, while also highlighting ‘positive developments in the Dutch economy’. The foundation is chaired by Mr. Klaas Knot, president of De Nederlandsche Bank, while the honorary chairperson is Her Majesty, Queen Máxima, the queen of the Netherlands. The other winners this year include Royal Cosun from Dinteloord in the Large Business category, and Lagemaat Sloopwerken from Heerde in the Small and Medium Enterprise category.

This year's finalists with Her Majesty, Queen Máxima, and Koning Willem I Stichting chair, Mr. Klaas Knot

This year’s finalists with Her Majesty, Queen Máxima, and Koning Willem I Stichting chair, Mr. Klaas Knot

The Koning Willem I Sustainable Entrepreneurship Plaque was introduced in 2012. The Sustainability Plaque is for any company that dares to dream and think different. To quote jury chairperson, Ms. Anne-Marie Rakhorst, “Don’t think you don’t belong. The Plaque is really a place where you can showcase innovation and disruption.”

THE JOURNEY TO THE PLAQUE

In 2013, Fairphone launched with a bold idea: products can be made with fairness and positive impact at their core. And despite all the naysayers and cynicism, our community has steadily grown from 25,000 to more than 600,000 customers today. We changed the way the industry thinks about repairability, sustainability, and fair labor, with an actual, physical product in the market that people love. 

Today, Fairphone is more than a phone; it’s a symbol of hope, optimism, perseverance, and true circularity. We’re moving towards a tipping point where ethical considerations are becoming the norm. We have inspired people to demand change from other brands, to demand longer support windows, to demand the right to repair. And it’s something we are extremely proud of. Change begins with individual decisions, each contributing to a collective shift towards a better future.

This year, Fairphone was in the final along with reusable water bottle maker, Dopper, and metal recycling specialists, Myne. To put it mildly, the competition was tough. In the words of our CEO, Reinier Hendriks, “We have enormous admiration for what they do. Together, we make the world a better place and set a good example. We would like to continue doing that together, with many opportunities for collaboration in sight on our shared journey towards a circular economy. Competing against the greats, in a very complex value chain, showing that things can be done differently and better, by influencing and inspiring large companies and governments to go along and each do their part. Winning this award is truly a world-class achievement for us.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Past winners of the Koning Willem I Sustainable Entrepreneurship Plaque include Mud Jeans, Gulpener Bierbrouwerij, and organic food distributor Eosta, and they all overwhelmingly agree that the prize has had a huge impact on their business, certifying them as the best at what they do. It is acknowledgement and endorsement at the highest level, after all. 

From being a conflict mineral awareness campaign with zero experience in manufacturing electronic devices to winning the Plaque ten years later, we couldn’t ask for better validation for Fairphone’s journey over the last decade. The timing couldn’t be better, either. We also won a GLOMO at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year, widely considered to be the Oscars of the global telecom industry. Following that up with the highest business award in the Netherlands is exactly the kind of encouragement we need to continue to do what we have been doing.

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