This case is a follow-up to "Fairphone (A): Can a Start-Up Change an Industry?" (UVA-OM-1712).
Fairphone's goals to keep producing an ethically sourced smartphone were noble, but "doing well by doing good" could only be an idealistic slogan unless Fairphone could figure out a way to be profitable. The company needed money to invest in its supply chain, to buy component inventory, and to pay for its own operations. When Fairphone began brainstorming about making the Fairphone 2, the next generation of its smartphone, one of the company’s largest investors had encouraged creative thinking about how to make a device that was both good for the environment and good for Fairphone's bottom line. One solution seemed to be modularity—making the phone easy to repair could not only reduce its environmental footprint by allowing reuse and recycling, but create new revenue streams for Fairphone. In theory, reselling a used phone or extracting precious metals from e-waste would be profitable—but would those profits be enough to significantly impact Fairphone's bottom line? Could Fairphone actually "do well" because of its commitment to doing good?