According to recent data, internet penetration in Tanzania is growing at a blistering pace and between 2013 and 2020, internet usage has more than doubled to reach 49% in 2020.
In the same year, 89% of the Tanzanian population also adopted the use of mobile phones and associated internet services.
“This great adoption of global digital transformation puts young Tanzanians at the edge of self-employment,” commented Biram Fall, Regional Managing Director of QNET in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In a press release earlier this week, the director said that Tanzanian youth, and in particular millennials, can now be self-employed through digital platforms.
“Born between 1981 and 1996, most millennials can’t remember a time before the internet, smartphones and social media,” he said.
This group is made up of early digital natives, having grown up comfortable with technology, constantly connected to an increasingly restricted world and having instant access to more information than any previous generation, he continued.
Citing the freelance work potential of digital transformation, Fall said; “Today, millennials and their younger counterparts, Gen Z, live lifestyles that revolve around their affinity for connectivity, cross-border social circles and technological skills that have revolutionized the way we act, to communicate and work.”
With direct selling, millennials can leverage their technological prowess, strong community ties, and strong sense of social responsibility to generate a sustainable source of income outside of less flexible traditional career paths.
According to recent studies, the way millennials interact and perceive the world is very different from that of previous generations. When it comes to the perception of the workplace, millennials don’t view their work as something they do for a paycheck.
Compared to previous generations, millennials do not expect to hold steady employment throughout their lives, but rather seek out what feels worthwhile to them and can complement their values and life choices.
“This decline in interest in career stability in favor of personal development and work flexibility has led to the rise of many independent start-ups within the gig economy,” he said. detailed.
Perhaps the oldest type of gig business that relies on a distributed workforce, the direct selling industry has reinvented itself for the modern world with rapid digitization, media marketing social and interesting products that appeal to the conscious consumer.
Giving the example of Tanzania’s youth, Fall said, “…it’s no surprise that the direct selling industry has seen a major influx of millennials in recent years who see this business as the perfect side hustle that complements their lifestyle”.
Direct selling can be an additional source of income for those pursuing their passion, or even a full-time career for entrepreneurial spirits, depending on what the person is looking for, he said.
Direct sales representatives, or distributors, sell goods directly to consumers outside of traditional stores, as opposed to retailers who buy products from manufacturers to mark them up and resell them to end consumers.
Additionally, direct selling takes advantage of social media and the technological prowess of millennials. Previous generations’ social networks were limited by geography, usually who they could meet in person, such as family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
The first generation of digital natives have built vast online networks that transcend geographical boundaries. According to Goldman Sachs research, millennials top the rankings for the highest uses of social media, text messaging, and instant messaging.
Speaking on the same agenda, Malou Caluza, CEO of QNET, referred to research conducted by the company in collaboration with Marmara University in Turkey to explain the importance of the direct selling business model.
“Many millennials find this business model appealing because there are no start-up costs, they don’t need to be tied to a location, they have control over how they want to market the products, especially through social media, and they can work flexible hours,” she said.
Companies like QNET have tapped into this trend by offering a 100% digital user experience through its e-commerce portal and mobile app. The company also offers a wide range of health, wellness and lifestyle products and services.
Through direct selling, millennial entrepreneurs can leverage their natural ability to create and connect with online communities to grow a successful business and earn an income. Studies show that 62% of millennials are more likely to become loyal customers if a company engages them on social media.
As millennials grew up in a technological golden age, they faced greater financial challenges than previous generations. Stagnant wages, increased debt, higher living expenses and multiple global financial crises have combined to cause many millennials to fall short of the economic achievements attained by their parents’ generation.
Today’s job market is also very different, with intense competition caused by rapid globalization and increased remote work opportunities leading millennials to seek non-traditional careers to earn a living.
Although many millennials aspire to become entrepreneurs, the investments and risks associated with starting a business can be daunting for a generation that has struggled financially. However, according to the Direct Selling Association, start-up costs are a few hundred dollars or less for most direct selling businesses, making it a plausible option for millennials.
“It involves little to no overhead costs such as retail space, warehousing or shipping. It offers millennial entrepreneurs an easy and inexpensive way to start their own business,” summarized the CEO.
In line with the Tanzanian government’s urge for young people to be self-employed, surveys show millennials see entrepreneurship as a job and a lifestyle that allows them to turn a passion like art, health personal or fashion into an income-generating activity.
They also value a healthy work-life balance and seek flexible schedules that allow them time to explore various interests such as travel or volunteering, making direct selling a viable option for self-employment.
Distributors of direct selling companies set their own hours. They are free to devote as much or as little time to their direct selling business as they want or need. This can be a full-time job or a “side job” that provides extra income. Yet, the inherent flexibility of direct selling allows the entrepreneur to develop the work-life balance they desire.