In Africa as in the rest of the world, network marketing by its concept and practice of building a network of people with common interest passes as an aspect of the sharing economy.

The sharing economy which evolved as a concept in the early 2000s shares commonalities with network marketing since both revolve around the truism that what one man or entity lacks, another may have in surplus, and so the excess can be shared with those who lack such resources or assets.

The sharing economy creates a non-committal partnership of having access to goods and services through personal consumption and distribution. It offers resource utilization opportunity with little or no stake of asset or human capital investment.

The sharing economy operates around the premise of renting, lending, and outsourcing virtually everything in business. It’s an economic arrangement in which participants share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership. Often this economic model is enabled by technology and peer relationships, just as is the case in network marketing. It is a common-sharing marketplace concept that is intended to avail people and business opportunities to operate through resource pooling of time, skills, space, and so on.

A wellness expert and strong proponent of network marketing as a means of advancing the wellness revolution, Paul Zane Pilzer wrote on the need for synergy in the wellness industry and network marketing, “These industries link tens of thousands of disparate service and product suppliers with a single cause. These include scientists, wellness entrepreneurs, fitness providers, business people, food manufacturers, individual entrepreneurs, direct selling professionals, chiropractors, osteopaths etc. making a paradigm shift from the traditional market to networking.”

Both network marketing and sharing economy are essentially committed to creating value. Their networks are not accepting of traditional mechanism such as authority and control. Since organizational hierarchy, power, and contracts are now exchanged for instruments of relational control, companies embedded in networks stand to gain a lot.

The sharing economy is also enabled by technology that makes connection between people, goods, and services more efficient, resulting in new communities, organizations, and business models for both public and private sectors of the economy.

Both network marketing and the new economy are shared-based transactions predicated on a set of values that include trust, reputation capital, transparency, economic empowerment, creative expression, personal resilience, and human interconnectivity.

JEZIE NZOMIWU is a trainer and public speaker based in Nigeria. He is the Managing Director of Wellness/Networking Educational Resources Development Ltd. (WENERD Ltd.) and the Executive Secretary of Social Engineering Research Initiative.