Tanzanian women who are making it through network marketing By SHARIFA KALOKOLA in Dar es Salaam | Thursday, November 15   2012 at  09:00

Birds of a feather: May Munuo and Serah George say networking was their pathway to financial freedom. | ZACHARIA OSANGA  NATION MEDIA GROUP

There was a lot of excitement when the concept of network marketing was first introduced in Tanzania only a few years ago. Many people rushed into the business and tried their luck – the majority having been misled into believing that it was a get-rich-quick scheme. But soon enough, they abandoned it in frustration. However, there are those who persevered, and are now reaping the benefits.

You see them roaming the streets carrying various items ranging from foods to cosmetic products. At shopping malls they wait in the parking lots, smartly dressed and wooing potential clients. Some do it from the comfort of their offices, convincing their colleagues to buy the products. Others do it from home. Over the years, network marketers have gained popularity in Tanzania.

Apparently, it has been a tale of mixed fortunes. While for some this venture has become the road to riches, there are some who are getting it wrong and hustle too much before quitting in frustration.

But here are some Tanzanian women for whom network marketing has been a blessing:

May Munuo

For four years now, May Munuo has been in the network marketing business with Forever Living Products International, Inc. (FLPI), a US-based company that sells aloe vera and bee-derived drinks, cosmetics, nutritional supplements and personal care products. She says network-marketing pays.

“Network marketing was my vehicle to financial freedom. My part is only to choose the best way to attain my goal. The best thing about network marketing is that I am not alone; it is ready-made and proven system that works if one is committed,” she says.

Munuo was working as a compliance officer at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) before joining the business world. It was a leap of faith for someone who had $285 as capital for business.

“I looked at what I was earning working, and I told myself that this was just not enough, and that was beside the fact that I had no quality time for my family due to work pressure,” says Munuo, who holds a Master’s degree in finance.

First she decided to do the business while working at NSSF, but after a few months had to quit.  “I was in a lot of debt then, and there were loans to service. I had borrowed money for my car and house. I just wanted a change. I wanted to be rich and have the financial freedom,” says the 43-year-old.

Things worked out well for her. Taking advantage of the Internet, she easily grew her list of clients via the social networks and emails. She also had DVDs, which had all the information her customers needed to know about the products.

So, she would send them emails, and give them the DVDs. It worked. It was also easy for her because she says she had tried some of the products on herself, and had seen some major changes.

“I started off by using the products on myself and when I saw the positive changes, for example, on my skin, and the improved health, it was easy for me to share the information with other people, my potential clients, on the benefits of these products. That way, I got more and more customers and I built my network of marketers,” she says.

She says in her first year of doing business she made a substantial profit in the millions of Tanzanian shillings. Incredible as it sounds, the single mother of three says the products they sell are expensive because “they are of high standards”.

“I have many clients who have no problems when it comes to money because they want quality products, and this is what they get from my products,” says Munuo.

She explains that with network marketing the greatest challenge is how to disseminate information about the products in such a way that one’s potential clients easily understand it.

“There are many people who can afford the products but the challenge is how to make them understand the value of the products. Through attending trainings that are frequently offered at our headquarters offices in Dar es Salaam, I got the knowledge on the products I sell,” she says.

In her new career, Munuo says she gets both monetary and emotionally satisfaction. She sees herself helping many people with health problems.

“I can also now travel to any place that I want, at any time. I also have time to take and pick my children to and from school and that is what satisfaction means to me,” says the single mother.

She advises graduates who are yet to be employed to give network marketing a shot because “it can be your road to success”.

Munuo feels challenged in her new business to help address the problem of people who do not pay any attention to their health.

“Too many Tanzanians are not aware of the benefits of taking good care of their health. Skin bleaching, for instance, is very common among the women,” she says.

Munuo is now investing in real estate while taking her networking business beyond the Tanzanian borders.

So what does it take to be a successful network marketer? “To become a successful networker one must be persevering, and have excellent communication skills,” she says.

Serah George

She joined network marketing soon after she finished her Form Six exams three years ago. It was good start with a capital of $425 given to her by her parents.

Serah Gearge had also been inspired by her fiancé, who was already a network marketer by that time. Since then, she has not regretted pursuing the business.

She now makes a profit of up to $945 a month. But her story is like that of most network marketers – one of toiling, perseverance, commitment and having faith that one day things will work out.

“I toiled to reach where I am now. The first bad thing that I came across was rejection. Many people rejected the products and this made me want to quit. Customers demand explanations. For example they ask why they should buy a tooth paste at $6.5 while they can get one at less than a dollar,” she says.

But equipped with patience, the young woman says she endured and now, thanks to Facebook and other social network sites, she has built a strong network of clients. She also had an experience with the products she was selling, which made it easier for her.

“I also drop flyers, brochures in different places I go. I started by selling the products to my relatives and friends and now I see the consumer network expanding,” she says in an interview with Success.

She first used the products to cure pimples and it worked for her. Since that time, she developed interest in cosmetics. She attended a beauty and cosmetics course in Kenya, and now is also a beauty consultant.

Serah is happy with her business because of her flexible working hours. “I don’t have to rise up early in the morning to go to work.

My daily routine is based on appointments. I am my own boss. With this job I have freedom and power,” she sums up.