Multi-level marketing (MLM) opportunities aimed at mothers that want to work from home are being investigated as reports suggest they are little more than pyramid schemes.
Multi-level marketing - also known as referral marketing - provides people with an income based on selling products from home. Participants have to invest in stock before they can start selling; they make commission on sales and also make money when they recruit new sales people.
Critics say that making money is often much harder than expected and participants become trapped because the only way to recoup their losses is to keep selling and recruiting.
The Mums Enterprise Roadshow has announced that it will not be accepting exhibitor bookings from any multi-level marketing (MLM) brands in order to "protect attendees". Lindsey Fish, founder and ceo of Mums Enterprise and business partner Lucy Chaplin say they have chosen to ban these companies to "protect parents from being conned by them".
Working with Hannah Martin, founder of Talented Ladies Club, they are highlighting the vulnerability of women who are looking for a way to work from home and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Hannah Martin, said: "Since we started investigating MLMs we've uncovered one shocking truth after another. We've been contacted by the Direct Selling Association (DSA), reps and even by MLM companies themselves. And not one has convinced us that it's a legitimate, fair industry.
"Mothers are an obvious target for MLMs," said Martin. "We often have large networks of friends and are looking for opportunities to make money from home. But the glamour of their products, marketing and incentive rewards, and twee inspirational quotes, belies an ugly business model in which 99.6% of participants will lose money.
"The truth is that MLMs are pyramid schemes in all but name. Their products are simply there to ensure they are legitimate. The real money comes from recruiting large downlines, and everyone bar the top 0.4% of the pyramid loses."
The BBC has recently investigated multi-level marketing after the website Mumsnet revealed that there have been between 20,000 and 30,000 posts about MLM on the site in the past couple of years, many of them negative.
The BBC interviewed women that have taken advantage of MLM opportunities; it found that while some have been successful, others have lost thousands of pounds. MLM adverts are now banned from Mumsnet.
Lindsey Fish said: "It's vital to us that we provide an honest platform for parents across the UK to … discover new and genuine business opportunities which will help them obtain a healthy work-life balance."
Mums Enterprise Roadshow Manchester takes place on 20 June at Event City in Trafford City Manchester; a two-day London event takes place on 28 and 29 September at Olympia.