By Malou T. Caluza
The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations released its 2020/2021 Annual Report, in which Chairman Roger Barnett calls on direct selling companies to reimagine, reinvent, and redefine the role and contribution of our industry for the next decade.
QNET is ready to meet this challenge. As millions around the world rebuild their livelihoods and economies after the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, QNET believes that the direct selling industry stands in a unique position to help our communities not only recover from the damage of the past two years, but to build a stronger, more inclusive, and more sustainable post-COVID economy for us all.
A Digital Transformation
For many, the pandemic increased the presence of technology in their lives. Many turned to social media, video calls, and messaging apps to stay connected with friends and loved ones, while e-commerce provided access to goods and services as many bricks-and-mortar stores were forced to close.
From its founding as the first direct selling company to go 100% online in 1998, QNET has established a solid reputation as a digital pioneer. The company was an early adopter of digital currencies like Bitcoin, making its products and opportunities more accessible to more people. And it is a leading developer of online tools like its award-winning mobile app, which empowers its global community of entrepreneurs to run their businesses from anywhere, at any time.
As the pandemic forced millions to avoid person-to-person contact and go online to purchase the goods they needed, QNET embraced innovative technologies such as social and video commerce, enabling its independent representatives to continue providing their customers with the quality products they desired while maintaining the personalised service the direct selling model is well known for.
QNET provides its representatives with the latest tools, training, education, and support to help leverage their online presence, connect with more potential customers, and grow their businesses.
While QNET’s digital transformation enabled its entrepreneurs to thrive when many traditional retailers shut their doors, it also helped bring communities together virtually when many were experiencing unprecedented isolation and disconnection.
As the pandemic compelled companies in most industries to cancel in-person meetings and conventions, QNET engaged online platforms such as Zoom to create virtual environments where its entrepreneurs could continue connecting, sharing, and learning.
The company’s V-Convention Connect 2021 (VCC) brought more than 350,000 attendees together in a virtual space where they could stroll through a realistic exhibit hall, visit booths, and examine QNET’s range of high-quality lifestyle, wellness, and luxury products. The three-day event proved so successful that CEO, Malou Caluza, announced the company would continue hosting virtual conventions even after pandemic-related travel restrictions eased.
At VCC2022, QNET used innovative tools such as Unreal Engine, a virtual production suite, to transport half a million virtual attendees into the metaverse, where they joined their fellow entrepreneurs in a virtual 3D stadium with a dazzling centre stage.
When many fear that technology is pushing us apart, QNET has shown how it can bring us together, inspire, and empower us to strengthen our connections.
As we return to in-person meetings, conferences, and training, our experience of the past two years has provided the direct selling industry with tools to build strong communities in both the digital and physical worlds.
Empowering Direct Sellers to Thrive in a Post-Pandemic Economy
Powered by mobile technology like ride-hailing, food delivery, and e-commerce apps, the gig economy is defined by independent representatives using the internet to sell goods and services and earn income according to their own schedules.
Even before the pandemic, the gig economy was experiencing rapid growth. In 2011 the percentage of India’s workforce engaged in gig-based work was 0.54%. That number had increased to 1.5% by 2021.
During the pandemic, workplaces closed, and millions had to find ways to earn an income from home. Economists now predict India’s post-pandemic gig sector could grow to $455 billion by 2024 as many have realised that technology enables them to work from anywhere, for anyone, at any time.
Gig economies worldwide are experiencing similar growth, driven by a desire for income earning opportunities that provide workers with greater autonomy, more flexibility, and a healthier work-life balance.
As the original gig industry, direct selling understands these desires better than most and has more than a century of experience helping millions of people realise their unique, personal goals. QNET has invested heavily in technology that provides its independent representatives (IRs) with the tools, skills, and support they need to be successful entrepreneurs.
Whether using a PC, a laptop, or a mobile app, QNET’s website delivers a seamless experience regardless of location, language, or currency. It enables its IRs to run their businesses efficiently from anywhere in the world, at any time, providing them with the independence and flexibility they seek.
QNET is leveraging technology to bring more economic opportunities to the world’s emerging economies. In Africa, where direct selling serves as an entry to the gig economy for many entrepreneurs and more than 58% of the population now has access to 4G networks, QNET transformed the industry by adopting mobile payment systems such as Mobile Money.
Because these platforms link to mobile phone numbers rather than bank accounts, they make transactions much easier and more secure for the more than 57% of Africans who do not have access to traditional banking systems.
As the world recovers from the economic shocks of the pandemic, the gig economy is changing how we work; empowering people to take control of their financial futures, to be their own bosses, and create a healthy work-life balance.
The direct selling industry was built on these principles more than one hundred years ago. By tapping into our long tradition of innovation to bring the opportunities of direct selling and the gig economy to more people, companies like QNET are laying the foundation for more robust, resilient communities.
Building a Sustainable Future
For many, the loss and devastation caused by the pandemic gave us pause to focus on the things that matter most. QNET believes making a positive impact in the lives of its people, in its communities, and on the planet matters most.
The company has always believed its innovative technological solutions should be a force for good in the communities in which it operates. Its Corporate Responsibility arm, RYTHM Foundation (Raise Yourself to Help Mankind), engages in projects at the community level to promote education for all, gender equality, and sustainable community development.
In one such initiative, RYTHM partnered with Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) to provide clean, renewable solar power to remote, tribal villages in India’s rugged Himalayan mountains. In Ghana, in West Africa, RYTHM works with the ANOPA project to provide education through sports to children with visual and hearing impairment.
QNET believes that building strong communities means leveraging technology and innovation to put sustainability at the core of its operations, from when a product is developed to when it is delivered to the customer.
The company develops its products with a holistic, purpose-led strategy to minimise waste and promote efficient use of resources. For example, the company’s innovative HomePure line of purifiers uses little or no electricity to improve air and water quality and help reduce waste such as plastic bottles.
QNET has started the processing of replacing its product packaging with sustainable materials such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and recyclable sleeves and boxes. Initiatives such as these mean that QNET’s IRs and customers can be confident that when they sell or purchase any of QNET’s quality products, they are helping to reduce waste, conserve resources, and contribute to a more sustainable world.
We understand that our efforts to build strong and resilient communities today cannot succeed unless we leave a better, cleaner, healthier planet to future generations. The direct selling industry is vital in addressing the threat of climate change and other environmental issues.
Because QNET is committed to leaving a green legacy, the company partnered with Certified B EcoMatcher to plant a global forest and fight the damaging effects of deforestation, starting with 3,000 trees planted in the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, and the Philippines. In addition, QNET has conducted reforestation efforts in Algeria, Indonesia, and Turkey, planting a total of 7500 trees planted worldwide through this initiative in the first half of 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a global disaster that caused loss and suffering for millions of people. It also forced us to use innovation and technology to accelerate a digital transformation, strengthen our connections, build new economies, and protect our communities.
This was not a new challenge for the direct selling industry. Companies like QNET have been using technology and innovation to build communities and new economic opportunities for decades.
As the world recovers from the pandemic, QNET is leading the post-covid world to a stronger and more resilient future, building on its history of technological innovation to transform communities, conserve their natural resources, protect their livelihoods, and improve the quality of life for millions of people.
Malou Caluza is CEO of QNET, whose global footprint has helped develop micro-entrepreneurs in many emerging economies.