Deni Hartoyo is a 30-year-old network marketing superstar who, together with his older brother Gita Hartanto, leads an organization of over 75,000 people in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Deni grew up and lives in Indonesia, a state consisting of 17,508 islands and the world's fourth most populous country, with more than 238 million people.

The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century, and today it has the world's eighteenth largest economy by nominal GDP, and fifteenth largest by purchasing power parity. Yet, despite the country's rich natural resources and flourishing economy, poverty remains widespread among its growing population.

Eight years ago, Deni was one of Indonesia's many struggling, unemployed youths, living day to day without any hope for a better future. When he encountered network marketing, it took him a year to overcome his negative mindset and doubts, but once he decided to do the business, no obstacle could get in his way.

Today Deni has blossomed into an accomplished leader who is cherished and revered by his team. In June 2010, he spoke at his company's yearly convention in Malaysia and told an audience of 9,000 the riveting story of how he lifted himself and his family out of poverty and despair.

Although Deni doesn't read or speak English, his boundless energy and enthusiasm for his business transcend any language barriers, and he continues to move and inspire people around the world with a powerful message of hope and possibility.

Deni loves his luxury cars.
Deni's vision is to change their lives for the better:
Photos courtesy of Sjafri Munardi and Dahlan Rebo Paing.
Noodle soup seller.



Tire repairman.

Street vendors.

Deni's old neighbourhood in Trenggalek, East Java.

Catfish farm.

With his mother at catfish farm.

With family at current house.

Wedding day with wife Yeni Purwati.

On vacation trip with family.

Inside his current home.

Deni, his brother Gita Hartanto, and other leaders at a recent anniversary celebration of their team in Samarinda, Kalimantan.

Presenting to leaders in Mojokerto, Indonesia.

Deni presenting in Samarinda, Kalimantan.

Breaking Out of Poverty

Born in 1980, Deni Hartoyo grew up in the town of Trenggalek, the smallest city in the East Java province of Indonesia. His parents were catfish farmers who lost their business in the late nineties, due to economic turmoil. By that time, Deni had finished high school. Although he had planned to go on to college, his parents could not afford to continue paying for his education.

When Deni was first introduced to network marketing, he was 22, jobless and borderline destitute. He was living at his in-laws because he and his wife could not afford a place of their own. He had no goals and didn't want to think about the future, as he couldn't see a way out of his condition. He remembers even the idea of ever owning a motorbike or a car seemed a far-fetched fantasy—until the day in July 2003 when his brother invited him to a business presentation.

"I was introduced to my company by my brother Gita, who was 25 at the time," says Deni. "In the beginning, I did not believe in the opportunity. I had a lot of negative thinking, so I ignored or rejected any information he gave me."

Network marketing had been a legal business in Indonesia since 1991, but when the Asian economic crisis of 1997 hit Indonesia in 1998, unemployment rates soared and many farmers and small business owners lost everything. This situation had attracted a lot of scams and fraud to the country, with international money schemes trying to take advantage of a population desperate for solutions.

"To this day," says Deni, "there are many irresponsible business practices in this country that under the guise of 'investments' have harmed thousands of victims, from villagers to intellectuals and bureaucrats, involving billions of dollars."

As time went by, Deni slowly began to understand that what his brother did was indeed a legitimate business. Deni watched his brother build his team from a distance for over a year, and little by little his dire need for change opened his mind and fueled his desire to get involved.

"What made me want to do this business was my growing belief, together with actually seeing the remarkable results this business could deliver in the long term," he says. "When I finally understood the whole system, I decided I wanted to join. But there was one problem: I didn't have the starting capital."

Deni talked to his family, close friends and neighbors to see if any of them might be willing to lend him part of the money. Instead of offering help or support, they all tried to dissuade him from his plan, and Deni had to face many insults and ridicule.

Not making any progress, he started taking some part-time jobs, such as helping his eldest brother, Tri Hartono, with catfish farming.

In time, Deni's family realized he was serious about building a business. It became clear that nothing could stop him from pursuing his intention to raise himself out of poverty, and eventually his family became willing to listen. After much negotiation, Deni was able to sell his father's television set, several wood carvings from the family collection and his mother-in-law's necklace to a pawnshop. Even this was not enough, so he had to take out an additional loan to cover the final cost of a starter kit. Two months after his decision to join, Deni had scraped together the funds to purchase what he saw as his ticket to wealth and freedom.

A Difficult Start

Happy to finally be able to launch his business, Deni now started the challenging work of sharing his vision and seeking to transfer his belief to others who might be candidates for joining his team.

"In the beginning I ran this business with limited capital," he says. "I didn't have any means of transportation, so every day I borrowed my neighbor's bicycle for prospecting. When I had to attend a meeting that was farther away, I borrowed my friend's motorcycle. I continued doing a lot of side jobs in order to pay for the gas."

As Deni approached friends and acquaintances, his offer to help them overcome poverty and create wealth was typically not well received. Afraid to change, most people resisted his ideas and accused him of being arrogant and delusional. Deni remembers this as one of the most difficult periods of his life, yet he says this adversity is also what strengthened his belief and determination.

"When it comes to fighting for the people I love, I must face rejection after rejection, insult after insult. I was booed upon and laughed at day after day, until I shed tears. Each time I promised myself that for the sake of the people I love, I had to remain firm and rise up again, and that nothing would stop me."

Even though shunned by many, Deni kept talking, sharing and inviting people to his leader's presentations. He learned that it was inefficient for him to give much detail about the business, because people would start analyzing and go into negative thinking. What worked was getting prospects to attend meetings, because that's where they would hear testimonials from other people just like themselves, who were already seeing financial results.

Sometimes Deni would bring as many as a hundred people to the weekly meetings. For most prospects, coming up with the funds to get started was just as difficult as it had been for Deni and would require significant sacrifices, such as selling a cow or a goat, or trading in valuables at pawn shops. This presented a huge barrier of entry, but it also kept out people who were not seriously committed to making the business work.

Fortunately for Deni, Indonesia is a densely populated country and, thanks to the sheer number of people he approached, he eventually found a few who were ripe for the business. Once he signed up a few partners and started receiving a check, recruiting became much easier: now he was living proof that the business worked.

Climbing the Leadership Ladder

Eventually Deni learned to give presentations and organize his own meetings. Telling his story in front of an audience quickly made him famous as a shining example of the transformative power of network marketing.

The number of prospects attending Deni's meetings kept increasing. These days it is not unusual for him to have as many as 7,000 guests at his weekly presentations. Opportunity meetings typically take place in an open field, and when a local organization starts to develop, Deni and his team construct a building close to the main leader's home to be used for trainings and presentations.

Today Deni and his group, the Amoeba Team, own buildings in several cities across Indonesia, giving them full control over the event preparations, the presentations and the attendees.

Deni continues to prospect among the lower classes rather than in more affluent circles, because he says the less fortunate are more motivated than the upper classes, who are too skeptical. He continuously expands his contact list by talking to anyone he meets. In addition to face-to-face communication and exchanging business cards, he uses a cell phone, email and online video. In the training halls, he uses a laptop and projector.

Transportation is no longer an issue, as Deni owns several motorcycles and luxury cars. He doesn't hesitate to drive hundreds of miles through bumpy country roads to lead meetings, give trainings or provide coaching for his leaders. The training tools he recommends to his team are paper and pen, product and business brochures, pictures of successful people for edification, and motivational DVD's.

"I'm passionate about my business," says Deni, "but every Saturday I take off with my kids and family. What made me survive in this company was my determination to fight till the last gasp for the sake of the people I love, for the happiness of my parents, wife and children. That's why I had to take action to transform myself.

"By becoming successful, I show those who have insulted, rejected or ridiculed me that with hard work and a positive mindset, I can change my condition. My conviction is that if I keep fighting for what I want, God somehow will reward me."

Deni attributes his extraordinary success to the mentorship he received from his upline and the company's top leaders, the V-partners. He also learned a great deal about financial literacy and motivation from American authors, such as Robert Kiyosaki and Anthony Robbins.

Over the past eight years, Deni encountered many challenges, including jealous people trying to sabotage his business, issues with government authorities, police involvement and competition from other network marketing companies.

"I learned that challenges come and go," he says. "To move forward we have to keep our eyes on the prize, which is worth every struggle. Not only can I build my own potential and success through network marketing, I can also help others to become wealthy and successful. I can establish friendly relationships among networkers who before might have been at war. I have been very fortunate that my company teaches universal principles of leadership and brotherhood around which everyone can unite."

Despite their young age, Deni and his brother Gita already lead one of their company's fastest growing organizations, with many thousands members in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei (a sovereign state on the island of Borneo), Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. When asked how they are able to provide leadership for such a diverse team, Deni replies:

"We keep directing our people to attend all team events, so they can receive motivation and training from myself as well as from my seniors. We have one voice, one ship, one captain, one mission. We tell our team members to teach others about our system until everyone can duplicate what we have done.

"At times, when one of our groups is weak, we support and nurture them by lifting their spirits and encouraging them to rise from weakness. We tell them that to make their lives count, they have to become rich and successful."

To illustrate this message, Deni refers to an old Indonesian saying:

"When a tiger dies, he leaves his stripes. When an elephant dies, he leaves his ivory, which is more valuable. When a man dies, he leaves only his name, and if this name has never been engraved in history—if he has never done anything worthy—it will soon be forgotten.

"Make sure to have a purpose that is worth fighting for to your last drop of blood. My biggest dream is that when I die, millions of people will be crying the loss and celebrating my contribution. In this world, we must give our very best to as many people as we can while we are still given a chance to live."