While many brick-and-mortar companies saw their profit margins freefall into the red during the pandemic’s height, e-commerce giant QNET saw green—and lots of it—reporting a 65% growth for its Africa-based direct sellers in 2020. As QNET’s distributors can attest: QNET is definitely not a scam but a lucrative way for entrepreneurs to earn a livelihood, especially amid a pandemic when many mainstream employment opportunities have dried up. Even pre-pandemic, QNET had high-performing digital assets and resources in place, which allowed a seamless transition for its entire seller network in the absence of in-person meetings and presentations due to lockdowns.
The direct selling industry saw a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3% from 2017-2020 (excluding China). From 2019 to 2020, direct sales increased by 2.3%. Direct selling in 2020 proved to be a pandemic-proof business model. As unemployment rates around the globe skyrocketed, many unemployed professionals turned to new income opportunities. QNET, and the micro-entrepreneurship that comes with it, is an attractive option for those who have lost salaries.
Sellers prize the industry for its flexibility and ease of scalability. Gone is the strain of other entrepreneurial endeavors like opening an LLC or S corp. QNET’s direct sales model empowers its workers with commission commensurate with actual sales.
“What makes direct selling stand out is that you don’t need a brick-and-mortar setup,” says QNET’s V Partner Donna Imson-Lecaroz. “When people don’t see a storefront, they assume it is a scam. But it isn’t. Direct selling is an opportunity to work anywhere and at any time.”
Eyes On Africa
For a case study on the sheer power of QNET’s direct selling model, look no further than Africa. That’s where emerging economies suffer due to an already fraught socio-political and economic landscape compounded by limited access to healthcare and vaccination resources. Labor income lost due to reduced work hours in 2020 rose to 9.4%, falling just behind the Americas’ 10.3%. More than ever, these communities needed options that could help them diversify their income.
With more access to the digital world, African direct sellers experienced more growth. A study found that increased 3G usage directly correlated with decreases in extreme poverty in Senegal. With more Africans logging on and finding brand-new business opportunities, e-commerce grew 9.1% from 2010 to 2017 in West Africa alone.
Why Direct Selling Is on the Rise: Low Start-up Costs
What makes this approach so different when compared to other opportunities in these markets? For one, direct selling eliminates many headaches of entrepreneurialism. There is no middleman, which maximizes sellers’ profit margins. Direct sellers, QNET’s included, do not need costly third-party real estate for operations. There’s also the allure of being your own boss without the rigidity of a 9-to-5.
Sourcing and inventory are also externally managed. Micro-entrepreneurs can serve as distributors without the hassle of managing supply, cataloging, or manufacturing. Direct sellers can also utilize established resources and products while leveraging their networks and sales savvy to sell. Sellers can also benefit from the earning power of direct sales’ most sought-after items like health, wellness, and beauty products. It also helps that innovation in these sectors keeps product pipelines fresh and gives sellers both a rotating and novel selection to offer their customers. Prefabricated branded content and marketing materials add even more ease to the gig: sellers can focus on just that—selling.
The Truth About the QNET Scam News
The QNET scam claims are as unfounded as they are misdirected. (Online trolls have unfairly targeted the e-commerce giant, calling it a pyramid scheme.) QNET, which is celebrating its 23rd anniversary, is indeed a time-tested direct seller. They have transparency and compliance with regulations in countries where they operate.
“QNET invests in training its independent representatives in ethical and professional marketing,” reads a statement from the company. “QNET also encourages them to abide by the company’s codes of conduct.”
For example, to support economic growth in West Africa, QNET established its regional hub in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire with a team focused on serving customers and distributors in the region.
Thankfully, QNET, which offers broader catalogs, support resources, and technology stacks, can pave the way for sellers to focus on their strengths with minimal risk and barriers to entry.
While pyramid schemes base their success on perpetual recruitment fueled by up-front investments, the direct sales industry steps away from this principle. Sellers are paid based on products sold, not people persuaded to participate. Direct selling success means choosing the best direct selling partner. As with any business or industry, entrepreneurs should do their research before investing.
As entrepreneurs in disadvantaged economies like Africa and around the world look for new ways to add income, direct selling is a viable solution. Africa’s Pulse recently noted that “digital technologies can foster the creation of new, formal private-sector jobs.” Direct selling clearly has longevity as a digital-ready opportunity designed to reward with sales-based compensation.