|Richard Clarke, DSA Chairman, South Africa|
Job creation, skills development and social upliftment are vital elements of much needed economic growth in our country, and it is these keywords that are synonymous with direct selling worldwide.
The direct selling industry in South Africa provides income opportunities to more than 1.3 million people, an increase of 81,000 over the previous year, and the DSA of South Africa estimates that more than 300,000 additional independent direct sellers could become involved over the next 3 years. Total value in product sales in 2011 amounted to over R7 billion(ZAR) to R8 billion(ZAR), which reflected 9.9 percent growth over 2010.
The DSA of South Africa is weaving itself a rich history of prosperity. For 40 years the industry has created entrepreneurial opportunities, income generation, skills development and a better quality lifestyle for people of all ages, irrespective of education, experience, financial resources or physical condition.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the DSA South Africa held a spectacular event in Johannesburg earlier this year with over 400 industry guests attending, including members of government, media and academic leaders as well as executives and top direct sellers from DSA member companies.
“Our 40th celebration event was a festive occasion and it was also an opportunity for the DSA to showcase the benefits of direct selling and the positive effect of income generation and entrepreneurial opportunities offered to all South Africans,” says Richard Clarke, DSA Chairman, South Africa.
“Where the government and formal business were not able to generate the required thousands of jobs per year, the direct selling industry is kick-starting careers, creating businesses and giving entrepreneurs formal business skills in a risk-free environment that will ensure their success,” Clarke says.
Keynote speaker, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu—now Minister of Public Service and Administration—was a highlight of the event. She hailed the DSA for its contribution to skills development and empowerment of South Africans.
“I want to congratulate the DSA for the great opportunities it gives to South Africans, employed and unemployed alike, and there is so much we, as government, can learn from you,” Sisulu says. “Direct selling has the potential to dramatically impact on unemployment levels in South Africa by creating thousands of jobs for youth and women.”
Sisulu went on to say that the direct selling industry “has huge potential.”
The success of the direct selling industry in South Africa is based on the industry’s open-door approach that offers low barriers to entry, the reassurance of a sheltered, mentored learning environment, and a virtually risk-free earning opportunity to people of all ages, all races and all economic backgrounds, making it a perfect recipe for South Africa’s fight against unemployment, which has soared above 25 percent.
Statistics show the success rate for new business start-ups in the formal sector are dismal—approximately 97 percent of new ventures fail within the first two years. Add to this the economic downturn, and the future looks dismal for entrepreneurs. Over the past two decades, however, the direct selling industry has been one of the highest job-creation industries in the South African economy.
Offering a “soft landing” for people entering the industry, the direct selling business model provides the requisite knowledge, skills, learning, management, processes and systems that have been proven over time, and are backed by relevant market research, advertising and promotional programmes already in place. The capital investment required to start up is minimal, relative to the benefits that can be achieved.
Clarke says the DSA’s proudest achievement is that over the past four decades it has improved the lives and economic prosperity of hundreds of thousands of South Africans through financial empowerment and economic emancipation.
“Forty years of growth is a substantial milestone for the industry, and we’re proud to say we are continuing to play a tremendous role in improving the economic prosperity of South Africans through job creation, skills development and social upliftment.”