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Network Marketing – A Pyramid Scheme or an Empowering Business Model?

by in Lifestyle on 31st March, 2017

We occasionally hear stories like that of Moyn and Monir Islam and their Network Marketing scheme was spotlighted by the Mirror. The two brothers had abandoned previous venture OneCoin, a digital currency to then launch their network marketing wearables business.

Network marketing.

Multilevel marketing.

Get rich schemes

Pyramid schemes.

Whatever you call them they are typically defined as an idea which promotes ‘build a business from home’, whatever you want to call it isn’t a new concept. However, in the last few years we’ve seen a HUGE rise in “Join our webinar to find out how you can make six figures” sort of “entrepreneurs” amongst the Muslim community.

OneCoin has affected many people including Layla Begum from London:

“Between my friend and I we have been swindled out of £71k from 03/09/16.

We were told by a Bengali Muslim Leader Saleh Ahmed (who works for Tower Hamlets Council)  that OneCoin is a digital currency and we would need to purchase the educational packages that would give us a guaranteed and high return within 3–4 months. He also told us that Onecoin was a shariah compliant and a halal investment.

We learnt the hard way that its part of a ponzi and multi-level marketing. He was working along with Moyn and Monir Islam.”

– Layla A Begum

The brothers, Moyn and Monir Islam have sparked outrage amongst many in the Muslim community and brought into question the ethics of many of these programmes. For years people have spoken about network marketing as scams and there have even been the “is it haram” conversation. Just type the question into google and you will get over 200,000 articles about it.

We got some opinions from those that are a part of network marketing and multi-level marketing schemes as well as those that are not and adamantly outspoken on it.

Yousuf Aslam, founder of has spoken out on what he terms #pdfpreneurs and #scampreneurs:

“Network marketing is prevalent globally and not a Muslim only thing, however, the latest trend is to link earning lots of money to some kind of fast track and guaranteed route to paradise – pitched by Muslims to other Muslims. This is really dangerous as it often plays on the vulnerabilities of those individuals who may be struggling with their finances or closeness with their Creator, often some combination of both.

In my line of work I know here about people that have been ripped off and it’s so sad. Single mums who put their savings into this thinking it’ll change their kid’s lives.”


Want to hear how it all began? Life before Amaliah, over on our podcast, ‘Amaliah Voices’

 Sarah Jane has been working in NWM for 2 years:

“NWM does seem to have an element of stigma attached to it which is a shame because ultimately people end up overlooking amazing opportunities either due to what other people say or because of a lack in their own confidence. “Oh that’s just a pyramid scheme” is a phrase that often blows steam from our ears, there is such a misunderstanding as to what a pyramid scheme actually is and what NWM is not. Pyramid schemes are completely illegal for a start.

NWM offers a business model which is fully inclusive meaning that everyone starts at the same position and everyone has the same level of opportunity to reach the top, there is enough room for everyone and no narrowing of the funnel. There is no other industry out there that does this; it would be very unlikely to find a cashier in Tesco being promoted to CEO.

NWM is incredibly popular amongst Muslim women and there is a reason for that it can offer them a flexible part time business that they can fit around their family and current commitments. We know our Islamic rights and we know that it is not our duty to make an income but the reality is we live in times that are very strenuous financially. NWM gives women a halal friendly environment where they can either release some of this burden or build an income for themselves. Not to mention single mothers who may want to build a career but still be active and present in their children’s lives.”

Rooful Ali, founder of Emerald Network

“When we think about true spirit of entrepreneurship in society and look back at the supposed ‘golden era’, when we invented, solved problems, pioneered, made a name for ourselves and others (non-muslims) benefited from our creations (from cameras through to coffee!).”

In 10 years time will anyone remember Average Abdul from Milton Keynes who sold a series of PDFs? unlikely…

Shahzad Younas, Founder of MuzMatch:

Fam Khalique, runs a NWM business alongside her full-time job at Amazon

“I would never think in a million years I would get involved in a network marketing business but was I wrong! This is the best decision I have made and I am already helping so many other men and women achieve their dreams.  I am now trying to reach out to Muslim women to take this opportunity and change their lives do not believe all the negativity about network marketing it’s not all true.”

It seems for every person who shouts out that all these programmes are unethical, there are many that feel they have benefitted.

What are your thoughts? 

Nafisa Bakkar

Nafisa Bakkar

Co-founder and CEO at Amaliah Find her @nafisabakkar on IG and Twitter