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YEAR: 2016 | LENGTH: 1 part (47 minutes)  |  SOURCE: VPRO


Designer Bas van Abel decided to create a mobile phone, while exploiting man and nature as little as possible. The dilemma’s he encountered while manufacturing his Fairphone are lessons for everyone who strives to run a fair company.

‘If you can’t open it, you don’t own it’ is Bas van Abel’s motto. He wanted to know why telephone manufacturers supply a hermetically sealed black box that we as consumers are not allowed to open. In the Chinese city of Shenzhen, Van Abel tries to understand the innovative recycling and creative culture. Over the last five years, hundreds or even thousands of small factories have become so good at manufacturing, copying and repairing, that China now has grand ambitions to flood the world with its own designs and to manufacture telephones that are better than the existing brands.

Van Abel soon finds out that it’s easier to realise his ideas once he starts his own company that actually makes phones. The Fairphone is born. From that moment on, his life is turned upside down.


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