The VP and an MLM: Robredo partners with top ‘networking’ company

Vice President Leni Robredo receives care packages from Amway Philippines, a direct-selling company, on Sept. 22, 2020. (OVP photo)

Vice President Leni Robredo teamed up with an international multilevel marketing company (MLM) to provide food for locally stranded individuals and street dwellers in different parts of the country.

LSIs are those who stranded or stuck in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon when the tough lockdowns were implemented last March to supposedly help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 in the country.

The Office of the Vice President and Amway Philippines, a US-based MLM for beauty, home and health care products, distributed over P300,000 worth of care packages to Filipinos from Manila North Port, Sta. Cruz Manila, Paco Manila, Delpan, and Quezon Memorial Circle.

Both the OVP and Amway also distributed 2,000 hot meals to the recipients who have little to no access to food due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Our commitment to help individuals’ lead healthier and more empowered lives is not just for our customers and partners, but to all Filipinos especially those who need it most,” said Leni Olmedo, country manager of Amway Philippines in a statement.

MLMs and a fuzzy business model

Outside good intentions to assist during a pandemic, Amway has been subject to investigations in the United States after it was alleged to be a pyramid scheme. Like other multilevel marketing companies, Amway primarily relies on recruitment to create multiple layers of distributors and marketing agents in selling their products.

Investopedia said a pyramid scheme‘s structure is where “a few top-level members recruit newer members, who pay upfront costs up the chain, to those who enrolled them. As newer members in turn recruit underlings of their own, a portion of the subsequent fees they receive is also kicked up the chain.”

An MLM operates by direct selling products through layers of distributors. It is difficult to distinguish a pyramid scheme from an MLM. Critics of MLMs, most famously including Emmy-winning host John Oliver, say the two models have no difference at all.

“Almost all of these schemes tell you that you can make money by just recruiting… let’s say five. Then you do the five do their five, that gives you 25. What they don’t show you is that you could only do that 13 cycles and you would exceed the population of the earth,” says Robert Fitzpatrick, a critic and author of “False Profits” that examines the psychological, social and financial effects of MLMs.

Endlessly increasing the number distributors is not inherent to the business of regular retail companies. Critics point out that constant recruitment inherent to an MLM’s structure makes its business model unsustainable and not beneficial to a majority of its sellers who are recruited later.

Amway had constantly denied allegations that its operations are “pyramiding” in disguise,  noting that direct-selling is legal.

“In a 1979 ruling that stands today, Amway was recognized by the United States’ Federal Trade Commission as a legitimate direct selling business whose distributors sell quality products to consumers, and where no one earns income unless products are sold. This ruling is used by nations around the world as they established regulations for the direct selling industry,” its website read. 

Other MLMs followed the Amway model so as not to earn the ire of the FTC.

Robredo’s pandemic-time activities

Robredo and her Angat Buhay program proactive throughout the pandemic in launching various initiatives to help health workers, LSIs and other Filipinos affected by the pandemic on the sidelines of the national government’s response efforts.

[A] Maraming salamat sa Peculiar Eyewear with Ces Drilon, para sa handog nilang 2,000 na piraso ng full protective face…

Since March this year, the OVP took the lead and offered free rides to employees, particularly the health workers and other front liners, following the suspension of mass transport last March.

Her team also provided them free temporary dormitories, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

The OVP last April also managed to raise almost P60 million worth of COVID-19 relief to further aid thousands of Filipinos amid the still raging global health crisis.

Recently, the OVP launched an instructional video series called Bayanihan e-skwela for educators and learners who have yet to adapt to the new blended or distance learning system of teaching.

Other digital platforms the OVP launched are the local market app, the Sikap.ph or a job opportunity website for displaced workers and the Iskaparate.com or an online marketplace for small businesses. — reports from Catalina Ricci Madarang

This content was originally published here.

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