According to the International Finance Corporation, globally, women are now starting businesses at a faster rate than men. More than 250 million female entrepreneurs are powering economies, creating jobs and new income opportunities, reducing poverty, and increasing equality where it is needed most.
A report by Deloitte concludes that women now own as much as one-third of all enterprises worldwide. Despite progress in recent years, many women still face significant barriers to starting their own businesses. These include a lack of capital, time, and the needed skills.
An industry that subverts these barriers is direct selling. The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) reported that in 2020, a staggering 74.4 per cent of direct selling representatives are women – a trend that is unsurprising considering the nature of the industry.
More women around the world are making the decision to turn direct sales into an opportunity for personal success as it leapfrogs theaforementioned barriers faced by female-led ventures in the modern world while still offering balance for women seeking fulfilling careers, without compromising traditional familial values or personal growth.
Direct selling is a retail channel used by top global brands and smaller, entrepreneurial companies to market products and services directly to consumers outside traditional shops and outlets.
Direct selling is a multibillion industry that has demonstrated strong growth in various markets, enabling aspiring entrepreneurs to build their own businesses through working with legitimate direct selling companies selling everything from household goods, beauty tools and supplements, to various otherconsumer products. The direct selling channel differs from broader retail in a significant way.
It isn’t only about getting great products and services into consumers’ hands. It’s also an avenue where entrepreneurial-minded people can work independently to build a business with low start-up and overhead costs, and move those products into the market efficiently. In early history, people sold and bartered goods to the community without a retail middleman.
Later, travelling sales people roamed from town to town, selling products directly to consumers who had no access to the big city markets. In the mid-20th century, the model evolved as direct sellers, mostly women, engaged their networks of friends and neighbours to demonstrate and sell products such as Tupperware and Mary Kay.
Direct selling has proven to be a resilient model. As many industries have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, direct selling set record sales in 2020 of USD 76 billion in Asia alone, with countries such India and Kazakhstan demonstrating some of the highest percentage year on-year growth in the region.
The direct selling model adapts quickly and efficiently to changes in market conditions while providing consumers with the products they want.
Today, a new generation of direct sellers is harnessing mobile technology and ecommerce to discover new opportunities in this time-tested distribution model. For those willing to work hard, direct selling can break barriers and create opportunities.
In 2020 the global direct sales industry was worth more than USD180 billion. Women Direct selling provides women with the products and materials needed to start earning money immediately with minimal costs.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the low entry cost of direct selling empowers women in impoverished regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America to lead the world with the highest entrepreneurial activity rates.
The direct selling model is scalable, meaning an entrepreneur can start with a small inventory and quickly increase it or reduce it as necessary without worrying about burdensome overhead costs such as warehousing or shipping.
These features of direct selling provide women entrepreneurs with low risk, lowcost business opportunities without the need for outside investment. Many women entrepreneurs must split their time and attention between their business, family, school, social life, and other competing interests.
As primary caregivers, many women struggle to balance their commitment to their home and children with the demands of running a business.
While direct selling requires the same commitment and hard work as other business models, it also enables women to operate according to their schedules. As an independent representative, a woman in direct selling can fit her work around her other commitments.
The added convenience of technology and e-commerce provide women with even more flexibility and independence as they build their direct selling networks.
Direct selling does not require specialized skills to get started. But many direct selling companies, such as QNET, provide their independent representatives with training, mentoring, and education that develop valuable skills and knowledge they can apply to their business and all aspects of their lives.
While direct selling requires hard work and commitment, it also empowers women entrepreneurs by providing them with a low-cost business model that offers independence, flexibility, and an opportunity to grow at their own pace.
Ms Asma Abid, a country representative of the leading Asian direct selling company, QNET, exemplifies how women are succeeding in direct selling. Born in Kerala, India, Asma had no work experience before beginning her journey with QNET.
“The toughest part of the journey was at the beginning because I didn’t have any experience of running my own business. Learning how to overcome my fears and accept setbacks was essential because I wanted to succeed. I wanted to feel empowered and be able to lead and help others become entrepreneurs too,” Ms Abid recalls.
She believes that women can succeed in direct selling because the model complements their values. “The core of direct selling is not just about the money, but the genuine connection and care you have with your community – it is synonymous with the values that women have, which are to nurture and care,” she adds.
Her words reflect how direct selling has long realised and relied on the strength of women in leadership and female-centric entrepreneurship. Ms Malou Caluza, QNET’s Chief Executive Officer, and a vocal advocate for women in leadership, credits women with the success of the direct selling model.
“The success of direct selling today is the result of the hard work of women. Direct selling would not see its current success without the hard work and passion from women,” she says.
Ms Caruza argues that by empowering women entrepreneurs, direct selling is building a stronger global economy for all. When women are economically empowered, they drive growth, reduce income inequality, and contribute to building a more inclusive, robust economy for everyone.