Women contribute 53 per cent of entrepreneurs engaged in the $1.5 billion (Rs 98.5 billion) direct selling industry in India, a report by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) said.
The Indian direct selling industry provided entrepreneurship opportunities to 5.1 million people in 2017 of which 2.7 million were women. This reflects a healthy trend of growth in contribution to the sector by women entrepreneurs at a time when India is witnessing a rise in unemployment rates, the report said.
The report further says that despite India and China having a similar number of direct selling entrepreneurs, China is far ahead in terms of sales generated. Around 5.1 million entrepreneurs in India were involved in direct selling in 2017 compared to 5.3 million in China. However, sales generated in China stood at $34.29 billion compared with $1.5 billion in India in 2017.
“India is a thriving market for direct selling. Even without the appropriate legislation, the industry has become a billion dollar market. The direct selling industry doesn’t just provide people with entrepreneurship opportunities, it is a great training ground for skills development, and for empowering women,” said Pramodh Manda, Regional Advisor South Asia, QNet.
Meanwhile, a report by FICCI KPMG predicts that with adequate regulatory support, retail sales in direct selling could reach Rs 645 billion by 2025 and provide self employment opportunities to 18 million Indians by 2025, of which 60 per cent could be women.
“Direct selling opportunities are a great way to generate self employment opportunities in India which faces challenges for employment generation today. The potential for this industry to grow and provide direct and indirect employment, contribute to the economy and help with skills development for women and youth is enormous, provided a clear regulatory framework protects all the stakeholders of this industry,” says Vijay Sardana, Chairman, Task Force to Direct Selling Assocham.
The Indian direct selling industry has been growing at an exponential pace over the last few years to become a part of the ‘billion dollar club’ of the multi billion dollar global direct selling industry.
Among the world’s top 10 largest direct selling markets in 2017 in terms of sales, five countries are from Asia, says the WFDSA report. While the United States is the world’s largest market, China is at the second spot. Asia Pacific region, however, has emerged as the largest contributor to the global direct selling industry in 2017. The Asia Pacific region contributed 46 per cent to global sales generated by the direct selling industry in 2017 with more than 65 million people in the region involved in it. Rajesh Kumar, Managing Director, Glonutra Corporation, said, “Entrepreneurship is the core foundation on which business of direct selling runs. Due to its entrepreneurial mode, the industry will continue to consistently have double digit growth. The latest WFDSA data on India showcases the progress made by the industry over the years and credit for achieving this goes to our sales force which continuously works hard in the field, even as we speak now. India is a huge marketplace with unlimited market potential”
Industry experts attribute India’s lower rank due to lack of regulatory direction to the industry so far.