An African handshake
Anett de la Porte
Published: 01-FEB-03

In a continent that embraces extended family values over nuclear ones ANETT DE LA PORTE believes networking is Africa's greatest talent and potentially its greatest opportunity

Meet someone in Africa and they will greet you with the right hand and give you their business card with the left hand. Many people are keen to find a business opportunity that could make life better for themselves and their families - and why not!

Invite one person to a business lecture and they will most likely ask if to bring some friends. And that is exactly what they do ... father, uncle, brother, cousin and don't forget the neighbour! "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much," says Helen Keller. How true this could be for the continent of Africa!

Network marketing, one of the fastest growing industries in the world at present, builds in this natural networking inclination and ability. Add to this very low startup costs (usually well below $100) and virtually no risk and you have the ideal business for Africa. Net- working is the linking together of large numbers of people while marketing is the moving of a product from the manufacturer to the end consumer on a profitable basis.

The power of this business is based on the following principles:

  1. Power of personal contact: It is like reading a good book, watching a good film or receiving a solid recommendation from a friend you trust (word of mouth). Networking is simply about using the power of personal contact to grow your business.

  2. Leverage: In direct selling one per- son has to move a lot of goods with time being the limiting factor. A salary can be viewed as "linear income" as you have only your own time and effort working for you. Jean Paul Getty, the oil billionaire said: "I would rather have one percent of the efforts of 100 men than 100 percent of my own effort." Networking uses duplication, where you have the benefit of multiplying time and effort

  3. Deferred compensation: The net- Worker is continuously rewarded for past efforts. Getting paid for work you have done in the past is now not only the privilege of authors, moviemakers and investors. Residual income is earned as you teach and equip people to run their business independently.

  4. Entrepreneurship: Many people hunger to be their own boss. As an

    Power of personal contact: It is like reading a good book watching a good film or receiving a solid recommendation from a friend you trust (word of mouth). Networking is simply about using the power of personal contact to grow your business.

    employee, a large portion of the profit you earn goes back to the company. In network marketing you gain from the effort you put in as every new distributor potentially adds to your wealth.

  5. Home business: It is operated from home, which is not only cost effective but also has tax benefits. Apart from the low starting cost, you work with consumable products that everybody needs and therefore create ongoing repeated sales. Being a cash business, you also avoid the risk of bad debt.
History has taught us that the world moves through different phases. After the Industrial era, we had the Information age and HOW, I believe, we are in the era of distribution. What better way to move a product than through people, replacing the high costs of advertising with the efficiency of word of mouth.

In direct selling only one person can earn money but in network marketing you can empower an unlimited amount of people to work for themselves and their own good. The success of this industry is proved in the fact that it is currently creating the most millionaires in the world. With the death of jobs as we have known them, it is time to sit up and take notice of what the Harvard Business School calls: "Rather seek to be self-employed than being employed by someone else."

Another way to look at it is, if you put a goldfish in a lake, it will still swim hi circles. Why not break out of our circle, swim upstream and put this industry to a test. We can use the power of the mil- lions of people we have in Africa to build a successful network. Network marketing is finding diamonds in your own backyard and the talent Africa has for it, makes it potentially one of its biggest business opportunities.

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