Various arms of government have welcomed engagements initiated by the Direct Selling Association of South Africa (DSA) to explore direct selling as an alternative income earning opportunity in the face of the growing challenge of unemployment in the country.
South Africa has the world’s largest number of unemployed people.

In the past few months, the Direct Selling Association of South Africa (DSA), led by  itscChairperson, Rajesh Parshotam, made representations to several organs of state.

These representations were made at executive, and legislative branches of the government highlighting the role that the direct selling industry plays in the country’s economy.

In the first week of September 2021, the DSA delegation met with Members of Parliament in the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development.

Parshotam says he was encouraged by the open and constructive dialogues.

He says that there was a realisation by the government – that direct selling can be a key lever in jump-starting our economy.

“We were particularly humbled by MPs in this portfolio of small business development who showed a great deal of interest in our industry’s ability to uplift people from diverse backgrounds, particularly women,” says Parshotam.

Women make up more than 70 percent of direct sellers in an ecosystem of more than 850 000 direct sellers in South Africa alone.

Parshotam says, “our motive to engage with the government stems from a desire to co-create solutions to our economic challenges as well as finding a ‘regulatory home’ for our industry”.

The DSA is the industry’s self-regulator, whose Code of Ethics is based on the  Code of Ethics of  the international direct selling industry body – the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA), and localised to include the laws and Regulations of South Africa.

Due to the strict adherence of its member companies to its Code of Ethics, the DSA of South Africa is a platinum member of the WFDSA.

At this week’s engagement with MPs, broadcast live through the Parliamentary broadcasting service, MPs expressed their desire to learn more about the direct selling industry.

This opens the door to further engagements, where the DSA can table challenges and seek solutions beneficial to  the direct selling industry, consumers, and the public at large.

“MPs were naturally interested in understanding how we as an industry protect the interests of consumers and the public from Ponzi scheme operators,” explains Parshotam.

“This is a fight that we have been leading through public awareness campaigns for quite some time and we are looking forward to having the government as a partner.

“Together we can protect the interests of our  member companies, our direct sellers as well as the general public.”

In South Africa, the direct selling industry generates more than R9 billion in annual sales, providing full-time business opportunities to more than 170 000 people.

In the previous calendar year, these direct sellers earned a combined R2.4 billion.

“Direct selling is an industry that has the potential to absorb hundreds of thousands of people, on a full-time or part-time basis,” says Parshotam.

“There are low barriers to entry to this sector. We are the ideal partner to the government for the creation and development of entrepreneurs.”