FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who gets involved with direct selling?

Over one million people are involved in direct selling in southern Africa, of which 79% are women and a high percentage are involved part-time. Direct Sellers are independent contractors (micro-entrepreneurs), whose purpose is to sell the product and/or services of the company they voluntarily choose to represent - they are not employees of the Company. Direct sellers represent all genders, race groups, age groups and educational levels. There is no barrier to entry.

Why do they get involved?

Many direct sellers were customers of their company before they started selling and, enjoying the benefits of the products they used, decided to start selling and to build a business. There is also a motivation to earn extra income. Being a flexible, part-time or full-time opportunity, it suits many households as it fits in with family commitments. It provides a platform for an entrepreneurial start. Those with physical disabilities have found great success in direct selling; people who have reached the official retirement age but still have a need to generate income and to be involved with business and skills development have found their niche in direct selling; and many younger people have used this as an opportunity to generate an income while they study.

Is the direct selling industry growing?

Yes, direct selling has enjoyed continued growth, even during a time when many other industries were in decline.

What products are sold through direct selling?

There is a wide variety of products available through direct selling including household goods, health and wellness, financial products, fragrances, cosmetics, personal care, jewellery and fashion accessories, and educational books and products. People who purchase through direct selling enjoy product quality, uniqueness and money-back guarantees.

Who do you sell products to?

As in any retailing environment, direct selling relies on creating a solid customer base. A customer can be anybody that requires good quality products from the range offered by the direct selling companies. Word-of-moth referrals provide excellent opportunities to find customers. It’s fun to share fantastic products that you have used, love and trust with family, friends and other consumers who you’ll introduce to the products. And don’t forget the fact that you’ll be able to buy them at a discount.

How much money can you make in direct selling?

The majority of direct sellers are part-time and they look at direct selling as a way of bringing in extra money to supplement their income. Part timers work between 5 hours and 20 hours a week and the more hours they put into it, the more they tend to earn. Full time direct sellers literally work at direct selling as if it was a job for an employer, namely 8 to 10 hours a day or even longer. However, with both groups one of the major benefits is that the hours are often very different with a lot more work in the evenings and on weekends, as you have to fit in with your customers, but your hours are very flexible. Direct sellers have to be prepared to learn the business and attend training, and have to realise that it takes work, applying taught skills, self-discipline and determination to succeed. For people who want to add R3,000 to their monthly income it does not require so much time, but for those who want to earn R10,000 and more, it is extremely hard work. Those earning up to R50,000 monthly are investing long-hours and hard-work (personal development and also growing, training and mentoring their sales teams), and those earning over R50,000 are very much full-time employed in terms of hours, commitment, leadership and management. Highly successful direct sellers who have invested years into their business and developed extremely motivated and successful downlines are earning in excess of R100,000 per month.  Another attraction for direct sellers are the merchandise and travel  incentives that direct selling organisations offer to their direct sellers from time to time.

How long do people stay in direct selling?

This can vary from a few months to many years, depending on the reason why the direct seller joined initially. There are some direct sellers who work for a few months to earn extra money for a specific reason (for example, saving for an annual holiday, ‘back to school’ costs, education or medical expenses). There are those who have a shortfall in monthly income and use direct selling as a way to supplement that income, as and when they need to. There are also those who have made the decision to build a direct selling business and who remain in the industry for many years. Of course, direct selling is not for everyone, so there will be a percentage of people who drop out each year, and the ease of entry and exit offered by the direct selling model makes this possible.

What is a single level compensation plan?

It is a structure in which a direct seller is compensated solely on his or her individual product sales (direct selling).

What is the difference between single level and multilevel compensation plans?

A single level compensation plan financially rewards a direct seller based solely on his or her individual product sales. In a multi-level (also referred to as network marketing) compensation plan, direct sellers are compensated based not only on their own product sales, but also on the product sales of their downline. In South Africa, around 80% of direct selling is multi-level and 20% single-level.

What is a downline?

“Downline” refers to a group of people that direct sellers bring into their business to generate sales, to recruit and to duplicate the business.

What is an upline?

“Upline” refers to the direct sellers sponsor (the person who recruited the direct seller into the business), along with the sponsors recruiter, etc.

How many direct selling companies are there?

There are currently 36 direct selling companies that are members of the DSA. Membership of the DSA is voluntary. Information is currently not available as to how many direct selling companies are operating that are not members of the DSA, although the DSA estimates that the sales made by its members account for a high percentage of all direct sales in South Africa.

Who can become a DSA member?

DSA South Africa is a corporate membership organisation. All new members of the DSA first undergo a 12-month probationary membership affording time to the DSA to assess the company’s compliance to the Code of Conduct and for companies to put any changes in place that may be required to be fully compliant with the Code. Once the probationary period has been satisfactorily completed, the company is proposed for full membership of the DSA. Individual direct sellers are not eligible for membership.

As a direct seller with a DSA company, what benefits do I get?

Direct sellers affiliated with member companies enjoy protection of the DSA’s Code of Conduct and can be involved in some of the DSA events and initiatives. You are encouraged to share your affiliation with a DSA member company with all of your customers as DSA membership is a symbol of the highest business ethics.DSA member companies will provide you with true and accurate information on the company’s compensation system, products and selling methods; base all earnings claims on documented facts; refrain from an unlawful or unethical recruiting practice; not charge exorbitant entrance or training fees; not encourage you to purchase more inventory than you can sell in a reasonable amount of time and to explain the repurchase option in writing.

Do I have to abide by a Code of Conduct as a direct seller?

Yes, you have the responsibility as a direct seller affiliated to a DSA member company for upholding the same high standards of business ethics that your company has pledged to uphold, as described in the Code of Conduct.

If I feel that a DSA member company or direct seller of a DSA Member Company has violated the Code of Conduct, what should I do?

If at any time a direct seller or a customer feels that a DSA member company or direct seller affiliated to a DSA member company has violated one of more provisions of the Code of Conduct, the incident should be reported to the DSA Secretariat. Go to Contact for contact information. Should complaints not be resolved at this level, the matter will be referred to the DSA Code Administrator.

What if the company I want to join is not a DSA member, should I still join?

Before making a decision on the opportunity offered, it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with the information on this website with regards to how to distinguish an illegal pyramid scheme from a legitimate business opportunity.