As most of you know, I have been associated with Direct Selling/MLM industry for the last 14 years. Though I like this industry because one can start and operate a business (in association with a company) without any investment and can grow to any levels based on one’s ambition and dreams. More than that the education system connected with companies like Amway or Mona.Vie has been helping lakhs of people to grow in all areas of life. I am always thrilled to see the success people achieve in other businesses and professions by using the trainings they had received from these education systems.
At the same time I am disappointed about the fact that even after 14 years, Government authorities don’t accept this as a distribution model and hence no one has any idea under which ministry this industry falls. Even though companies in this industry have grown and creating thousands of crores of rupees as sales turnover, and some big companies have formed industry forums, I still feel that the subject is not being taken up properly. Whenever the companies face a legal challenge in a state, these companies run around to sort the issue out. Sometimes even I feel some big companies what theses issues to remain unresolved and if the Government bans this industry, they could get into traditional retail model, showing this as a reason!
Whatever be the case, the distributors who have been slogging in the market are the ones who are getting affected. Leaders like me always feel helpless when this kind of issues happen, though we always fight from the front and try to protect the people for whom we are responsible.
Kerala has been facing these challenges right from 2000. Amway’s Nutrilite was raided and banned twice in this state by Drug Control department. However, the distributors went all out to re-build the market and they succeeded, by creating awareness and education programs like ‘wellness wave.’ In 2011 all companies in Kerala got hit by legal action, including Amway. (If someone didn’t get hit, its because they must have been too small to identify.) Amway was shut down. This year again the Police attacked and shut down almost all companies who have significant presence, which include Amway, Mona.Vie etc. (Cases are registered against other companies like Sami Direct etc). The industry is stand still.
As Police is of the view that ALL MLM COMPANIES ARE MONEY CHAINS, they can arrest anyone involved in the business, starting from the Director of a company upto a person who has joined a Distributor today. As I may be the most affected this time, I was keen to clean this mess. However, when I plunged into it, I realized that no one is taking responsibility for this industry. Higher officials are confused as to which ministry this industry belongs. Though MLM is an alternate Distribution Channel for products, neither Ministry of Commerce and Industry, nor Ministry of Consumer Affairs have any clue about this. As a result Home Ministry under which the Police Department falls, taking charge of this industry! Though it is an irony, it is the fact. This is what happened in AP and now in Kerala and can happen anywhere.
There should be a concerted effort by the companies and the distributor force to come out of this ambiguity. I strongly feel that this industry should survive and succeed as this is providing opportunities to common people to become a self-employee or to start one’s own business.