Direct selling is often seen as an unconventional path when choosing a career. Initially, it was mostly a male-dominated industry with fewer women opting to become direct sellers. However, over the years, the number of women in direct selling has been increasing. Direct selling doesn’t just provide opportunities for men, it also presents the same opportunities for women. This includes women from various backgrounds, responsibilities and walks of life.
Direct selling is a great platform for women who would like to have the opportunity to choose their own working hours. The industry provides every woman with a chance to be her own boss. This article is a tribute to all the women who chose to break all biases and embrace direct selling. We will further understand how QNET’s direct selling opportunity supports the cause of women empowerment in India.
Breaking the bias with direct selling
India is a country with predefined gender roles. In most areas, society dictates the norms. Men are expected to be the breadwinners and earn for the family, while the women stay back home and are preordained to become homemakers. Here are some global facts published on the official United Nations (UN) website –
- In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working
- In 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have equal inheritance rights
- 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence.
However, change is inevitable. Women empowerment is a movement to promote gender equality, encouraging women to stand up for themselves and fight for their rights. We must understand that women empowerment is not a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a sustainable and prosperous country.
Over the years, there has been significant progress, with more women going to schools and fewer women being forced to get married. The progress is also reflected in various sectors, with women going from stride to stride with men. Direct selling has seen its share of rise in the number of women adopting direct selling as a profession and making their ventures successful. A WFDSA report claims that 53% of the total direct sellers in the Indian direct selling industry are women. They have served as an example to individuals who shed their biases and continue taking necessary actions.
Let’s understand the role direct selling plays in empowering women in India.
How does QNET direct selling contribute to women empowerment in India?
Direct selling is one of those industries that is not defined by caste, creed, socio-economic background or gender. Women empowerment is crucial for QNET. In the past couple of decades, women joining QNET direct selling have been on the rise. Many women have become successful and are empowering others through their journey.
Here are a few ways QNET direct selling plays a crucial role in women empowerment in India –
1) Financial Independence minus gender bias
One major aspect that hinders women from imposing themselves in society is not having opportunities to support themselves financially. Even today, a majority of women depend on men to support them.
With the advent of technology, employment opportunities have become more accessible. In fact, direct selling is one of those opportunities that are accessible to everyone regardless of gender. It is an industry that provides equal opportunities for both men and women. There has been a significant rise in the number of women taking up direct selling and making themselves financially independent. Now it is possible for women to become successful in direct selling without the fear of any biases.
Inspirational VP Kavita Sugandh says – “Success doesn’t see gender. It comes to those who put their blood and sweat into it and are deserving of it”.
Here is a recent interview of VP Kavita Sugandh published in a Hindi journal called ‘Pioneer’ on International Women’s Day –
QNET entrepreneur VP Kavita Sugandh inspires women to become independent
On gender diversity in different business sectors
“I feel that society has a clear distinction of how work is assigned between a woman and a man. Hence there are very few industries where there are women in the majority. Very few departments in the corporate sector will have women, such as in the administration department or operations, to name a few. The occupation of men is seen more in the sales department.
The problem is the glass ceiling for women in the corporate world. It is much lower than men which they touch in few years. Once, they accomplish it, they tend to be at the same level as men or a little higher. It depends on department to department. Their growth may be limited.
The day we will stop having such tags based on gender and empower each individual and trust each other to do different things, to prove themselves, only then we will have equal opportunities, and we can put an end to this discussion.”
Advice for women looking to grow their own business
“There is no substitute to hard work. I also believe in exploring one’s strengths and weaknesses and working on them. Don’t be afraid to put your point across, even if you are called opinionated. Even if no one likes you, it’s a sign of their insecurities, not yours.
Women should never feel they are less or wait for a backing or a support system to grow. In fact, every woman needs to become their own support system. No one is coming to rescue, or no one is coming to live your life and understand your problems. You need to understand your problem and work on a solution around it. And for once, we need to stop begging people to understand us, and we need to stand for ourselves.
I believe this is the only way to grow.”
On seeking inspiration from others
“At the cost of sounding arrogant, I would say I was never looking for inspiration. I never wanted to have a crutch to grow. So, if my inspiration stops growing, I will stop growing too. I was not ready to take a chance with my life. I am like a horse with blinkers on. I don’t look left and right, and my eyes are just on my destination.”
VP Kavita Sugandh’s Leadership style
“At the outset, I believe that being a leader is a great responsibility and not a privilege. Being a leader, I need to have a clear vision, and only then I can lead people. I believe in a benign dictatorship. So, while I love my people, and they are my family, and I stand with them in all their phases of life, I also make sure they are growing and still have their passion alive. Being a taskmaster, it has always helped me and my people to grow.
It can’t be blind leading the blind. If I am clear about my goals and destination, I will make sure my people are too.”
“For me, it’s simple. It’s equality. I don’t want to be treated less or more than anyone. I just don’t want to have judgements about me because of my gender. I am as capable as anyone else in everything I do. I don’t demand sympathy, and I don’t believe there is a need for someone to empower me.
Just let me be.”
On starting her entrepreneurial journey
“Around 2006, I decided to quit my job and started an HR consultancy business, which was my first major stint at entrepreneurship. I was the CEO, administrator, clerk, and the only employee since I couldn’t afford to hire people. With hard work and determination, eventually, I was able to grow this business and establish multiple offices. This experience also taught me that running a business is not easy. I was hands-on, and my company was centred around me, and that meant I could not afford to fall sick or go on vacation since a lot of money was at stake. Also, all the profits seemed to only appear on paper and never in the bank!
Two years later, I was introduced to QNET’s direct selling business by a family friend. Initially, I was reluctant since I was still focusing on succeeding in my HR consultancy business. I tried to do the direct selling business on the side, but I was not really committed to it.
It took me about a year before I realised the power of the direct selling business to impact sustainable change. I had gone for one of QNET’s international conventions, where I had the opportunity to attend their training programmes, interact with other distributors from around the world, and explore various products. I came back home from the convention with a totally different mindset. I was energised and motivated to give this business my all. I came back and closed down my HR business. From that day on, I decided to give QNET my 100 per cent.
I had to work very hard for four long years before experiencing any form of success with QNET. By 2012, I decided to move to Dubai to expand the business internationally. For the next one year, I was constantly travelling between India and Dubai. By 2014 the team in India was becoming self-reliant, and I didn’t have to oversee things regularly and was able to properly shift to Dubai and focus on the international business.”
On her contribution to the upliftment of the women’s sector
“There are two different areas related to women I am working with. One is the underprivileged section, who are not educated and don’t have enough resources. We give them free education and help develop their skills to be independent through various initiatives.
The other area conforms to the women in my business/team. They get all my attention and time. As I feel this is what we want. We don’t want bigger solutions and strategies. We just want to pour our hearts out and someone who can listen to us without any judgement.
Answering your next question – It wasn’t difficult for me to do or grow the business because of my gender. Thankfully, I am in an industry which believes in more women coming forward and being successful. I am just doing my work, and I am focused on my goals. I don’t even know if there’s anyone who is trying to pull me down because I am a woman or not liking my growth or if anyone is against me. They are not my focus. They are irrelevant to me. My focus is my final destination.”
Advice for women hindered by family commitments and lack of support
“As I said earlier, don’t wait to be rescued. Don’t wait for a support system. Be your own support system.
Women are known for their multitasking skills. Family commitments are never an issue. Taking a decision to do what you really want to do in life is a challenge. I am sure if a woman decides, she can do wonders. The way women are committed to their family responsibilities, the same way they need to be committed towards their dreams.
I am sure our families also want to see us successful; they are just not able to see the success right now. I look at ‘Lack of support’ as an opportunity to prove to myself that I can do it on my own, and once I start working on it, the support will come. I can’t wait for all signals to be green to take out my car. The situation will not always be conducive. And we can’t wait to have support first and then start our journey.”
2) Power to take decisions by overcoming inhibitions
The direct selling industry requires an individual to be robust and proactive to build the business. Working as a direct seller provides individuals with situations where they need to make important decisions. It may include taking strategic decisions, deciding on the marketing idea to pursue, how to scale the business etc.
Direct selling provides women with the situations to make important decisions. It gives them the experience and the necessary vantage points to become more confident in their decisions. This aspect directly correlates to giving women the power to take charge of their lives and make their own decisions without relying on others to dictate terms. In essence, it helps them overcome their inhibitions and self-doubt.
AVP Shipra Neeraj reckons – “There are no external challenges for her that she can’t overcome. It’s only her inner battles that she has to fight and win over”.
3) Access to Knowledge
QNET has a vast resource of collateral and documents that aid direct sellers in their self-learning journey. This includes official documents from the QNET website about the company, marketing presentations and business tools. In addition, it also provides the product portfolio and presentations specific to products. All of these documents are accessible on the QNET website as well as the QNET Virtual Office (VO).
The information is accessible without any bias. Whether it is a man or woman, the information on the website is equally applicable to everyone. Moreover, a vast community of direct sellers motivate individuals regardless of their backgrounds to become successful in direct selling.
Knowledge is often the key to building a business or empowering a cause. Women can take advantage of the opportunities that QNET provides with confidence that if they work hard and dedicate their time and effort, they will inevitably become successful.
As VP V Padma rightly suggests, the impact women can have when they are given access to knowledge and a path to become successful – “Even if a hundred men succeed, no one notices – but if ten women are successful, everybody knows about it. This changes the perception of what we can accomplish “.
4) A means to fulfil dreams
Most individuals start a venture or sign up for an opportunity with a desire to fulfil their dreams. Their dream could be supporting their family and providing the best products for enhancing their lifestyle. Or an opportunity to become financially stable and go on a vacation on their own timeline.
Fortunately, direct selling provides women with the necessary means to build their own businesses. It also provides the freedom to pursue and nurture their dreams without being cast away in the constant demands of life or being caught in the continuous cycle of responsibilities. Building a business and making it successful is again contingent on the dream and how badly they would want to pursue it and ensure its fruition.
AVP Sharfun Shaikh believes – “The most important thing needed to succeed in direct selling is to have a dream and be goals driven to achieve it”.
5) Empowering others
Women empowerment is often seen just as a cause for empowering women. However, women empowerment can lead to the overall development of society. Women are important in our lives. She is a mother, a daughter, but also an important member of society.
A woman can be instrumental in the development of society. As depicted by Hina in the short film – ‘I Promise’. Hina helps her neighbours by providing access to great products. She also provides self-employment opportunities for others by sharing the QNET business opportunity. In turn, she becomes an inspiration for the entire community.
Watch the exclusive short film on QNET India’s YouTube Channel –
Women are truly a great source of inspiration. Women direct sellers have become a beacon of light. A guiding force for individuals to take charge of their lives. QNET celebrates and applauds all the women entrepreneurs for breaking their biases and taking that all-important step towards direct selling!
If you’d like to learn about QNET and how its direct selling opportunity could empower you, visit the QNET India Website!