Sunday, October 19, 2008

Caste System Meets MLM

If ever there was a fatalistic system in the world it is the caste system found in India.

The castes are divided up into 5 groups.
1. Brahmans: the priests and teachers
2. Kshatriyas: the rulers and soldiers
3. Vaisyas: merchants and traders
4. Sudras: laborers
5. Outcasts- the Dalits or untouchables. These are considered too impure or polluted to rank as worthy humans or even have a caste.

These castes are sharply defined and the social stigma of mixing the various castes is considered taboo.

Religions will clash with each other but have little chance of effecting each other on mass. Christians may even bring the gospel to individuals within the various castes but they have little impact on overthrowing this very fatalistic worldview on the whole.

But here’s where a MLM business model has the potential of truly upsetting the apple cart. A traditional single owner or even corporate model would not be able to do this. Hiring would be based on caste and in fact would simply serve to strengthen the caste system.

However a Network Marketing model, with a truly great product, would be able to have tremendous impact within the economic and rank system of any society.

On paper an MLM looks somewhat like a pyramid but the reality is there are no lines of hierarchy but rather simply lines of time, essentially, who got there first. Some people don’t even like that idea but it’s no different than talking about an older brother or sister. Each one has the opportunity to succeed and even go way beyond those who are ahead of them.

A simple example of this would be my enrolling Jim who has six children. As Jim builds his business he supports me. I support Jim by enrolling other people after Jim. One of those people is an 80 year old widow. After her, Jim might enroll another one of his children, in this case, a son who is 12 years old. I continue to support all of them by enrolling even more people after the 12 year old son.

Jim supports me, the widow supports Jim, the 12 year old supports the widow and so on. There is no hierarchy but rather the look and feel of a team. Each person supports someone else and is being supported by others.

Now let’s put this economic system into a culture based on the caste system.
An outcast signs up first with a Brahman signing up later. A Vaisya gets into the mix and after them comes a Kshatriya. Perhaps another outcast signs up and then a Sudra. Each one supports the other and is dependent on the others for their success. Because everyone is making money, the strict, distinct walls begin to slowly crumble. Higher castes and lower castes alike are rooting for each other to succeed. The barriers, prejudices and fatalistic thinking are shattered through a cooperative plan of doing business in way that has everyone succeeding.

Can an unorthodox business model change the world? Remember the story of a smart businessman who could understand dreams by the name of Joseph.

When young Joseph had his first dream and it caused him to be sold into slavery in Egypt, no one would have predicted that that beginning would literally be Israel’s salvation. Even when he was able to accurately interpret the dream of 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine, without a sound business plan, the correct interpretation would not have saved anyone.

Joseph was able to tax 20% of the grain during the years of plenty and then sold it during the years of famine. If he hadn’t sold it, the people would have eaten all of the food before the 7 years of famine had been completed. I’m sure there were a few people who didn’t like the 20% tax and probably labeled him as greedy. They definitely didn’t like having to purchase the grain later on with the greedy label now firmly attached and documented. Nevertheless, God was able to give a divine revelation to a skilled businessman to save His people at that time. The barriers of bitterness, shame and unforgiveness were broken with the aid of a successful business plan.

These days, I know of no other business model that would allow average, non business type people to prosper through their own business with virtually little or no investment and no educational costs to overcome. When it’s done well there is always a spirit of cooperation and WIN/WIN.

Of course, there are lots of stories of poor implementation of this type of business model. Just as there are many stories of bad doctors, substandard teachers and evil corporations who only serve profits or themselves. That doesn’t make any of the above models bad, but are simply examples of poor implementation or greedy individuals. How many students have shelled out $100,000 - $200,000 and have not ended up with jobs in their area of expertise? Would we denounce the entire educational system for this failure?

What if Joseph had only taxed the people 5%? That would have been an example of poor implementation when the grain ran out at year 3 of the famine.

It seems that in these days of economic uncertainty and incredible global needs that a simple business model that allows average people to succeed by helping others, might very well be a mechanism that God would use to bring about equality on a global basis.

No comments: