Founder of the world’s most ethical and sustainable mobile phone, Fairphone, Bas van Abel is an entrepreneur, designer and engineer. He has more than 20 years of experience in social innovation, with a passion for system change.
Bas believes that companies play an essential role in the transition needed to achieve a more sustainable economic system. As a designer, Bas delves into the invisible world behind our production systems, brings the problems to the surface and uses his companies to show that things can be done differently. Bas is a speaker who not only inspires his audience, but also gives practical examples to help you get start your own mission-driven business.
Bas is founder of the successful sustainable smartphone manufacturer Fairphone and co-founder of circular start-up De Clique and advises companies in their sustainability transition. He is a co-author of the book “Open Design Now” and is an Ashoka fellow, a network of the world’s most prominent social entrepreneurs. His work has been featured in various media, including CNN, The New York Times and Der Spiegel.
With Fairphone, Bas has built up almost 10 years of experience as CEO in starting up and growing a company into a successful international player in the extremely competitive telephone market. Fairphone’s success is built on its design approach, which takes people and the planet into account as much as possible when sourcing the materials, designing and manufacturing the Fairphone. Under his leadership, the company raised 20 million euros in crowdfunding, was the fastest-growing technology start-up in Europe and was named the most sustainable Consumer Electronics company in the world by Greenpeace. In addition, it has won many international awards, including the Dutch Coolest Dutch Brand 2020 award, The UN Momentum for Change award, and the German Greentech Award. Bas is still involved with Fairphone as a non-executive board member.
With De Clique, Bas set up a new successful social enterprise in 2019, which focuses on the reuse of organic residual flows such as coffee grounds, peels and cutting and food waste. With its raw materials service, De Clique collects residual flows from large companies, supermarkets and catering establishments in urban areas. Together with partners, it develops products in which the residues are used as raw materials for the production of bread, soap, beer, meat substitutes, animal feed and compost, among other things. It sells these products back to its customers. De Clique has successfully raised an investment based on a steward-ownership, whereby only non-voting shares with a profit cap are issued so that the company can only be guided by its mission. De Clique is one of the first Dutch companies to realise this setup.
Before starting his business, Bas worked for 10 years, including as a creative director at Waag. Waag is a media lab that works in a team of designers, artists and scientists, applying public research methods to technology and society. At Waag, Bas has supported both profit and non-profit organisations with their innovation challenges. He also set up the Amsterdam Fablab, a public mini-factory at Waag and launched the world’s first open-source restaurant.
His experience as an entrepreneur in combination with his creative and technical background, ensures that Bas can deliver a catchy story based on his own experience and expertise, in which he can delve into many different topics such as entrepreneurship, brand development, product design, sustainability and chain design. His experiences and insights as an entrepreneur are both inspiring and practical for an innovative approach to sustainability.