Founded out of the Netherlands back in 2010, Fairphone has set out to differentiate from other smartphone makers by focusing on sustainability and lowering its environmental footprint — this includes making its devices modular and thus easier to replace parts and minimizing its use of conflict minerals. The company has also expanded into tangential products, including headphones and accessories, and has raised around $94 million in funding, including a $53 million tranche just six months ago.
Gouwens joined Fairphone first as managing director in 2017, before replacing the company’s founder Bas van Abel the following year as CEO.
Quoting former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Gouwens indicated that her reason for stepping down was simply to her running out of steam: “I know what this job takes, and I know I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s as simple as that.”
At the time of writing, it appears that Fairphone has not yet found a successor, with today’s announcement signaling the start of a search process to find the company’s next CEO.
“Now I know it is the right time for me to find someone like-minded yet fresh to take my place,” Gouwens said. “Someone who understands Fairphone’s mission and vision. Someone who can help Fairphone scale even greater heights.”