Direct selling has the potential to dramatically impact on unemployment levels in South Africa by creating thousands of jobs for youth and women, South Africa's defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Wednesday.
The low barrier of entry into the industry enabled people without education to engage in the economy and, through enthusiasm and hard work, earn enough to sustain themselves and pay for their children's university education, she added.
Sisulu was speaking at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Direct Selling Association of South Africa in Sandton. In the audience were the country's most successful direct sellers from a host of companies.
The local direct selling industry was recruiting, on average, 100,000 new people a year -- at a time when the global economy was in recession.
Sisulu said she thought when the SA National Defence Force recruited 20,000 youths a year it was making a difference to unemployment, but this could not compete with the direct selling industry.
“It is also an industry that enables people to improve their skills --whether this is to learn book-keeping or to just manage their own finances. This industry, especially for black people, has huge potential,” she said.
Sisulu said direct selling encouraged a culture of entrepreneurship which was lacking in South Africa.
“What I notice when I visit a country like India is how everybody is busy with something. I hope that direct selling (and the entrepreneurship it inspires) can draw in the youth of South Africa.”
This would assist government in resolving the massive crisis in youth unemployment.
“The direct selling industry has the potential to offer South Africa a solution to unemployment.”
There were also no restrictions on what a person could earn, with some astute young direct sellers already claiming to enjoy millionaire status.
What was encouraging was that the industry was governed by strict ethical standards and ensured compliance from members.
“That 86 percent of the people in this industry are women is phenomenal. It has created opportunities that have freed women from the bonds that tied them to their homes and encouraged equality between the sexes.”
The fact the majority of women in the profession were black was cause for hope, she added.
“The growth of direct selling is vital for the economy of the country, [and] for women, especially African women, and for [the] youth.”