Simultaneously, new mechanisms for detecting irregularities in network marketing have been established. Among these, the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade has launched a website dedicated to the business model — not only to provide information, but also to facilitate and follow up on the process of registering network marketing companies.
According to the website, 23 such companies have been licensed to operate in Iran within fields such as food, chemicals, health care and cosmetics. Meanwhile, a committee made up of officials from the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, the Intelligence Ministry, the Justice Ministry and police closely monitors both the activities of these companies and the process of issuing their licenses.
Although the heavy shadow of pyramid-style businesses still looms over network marketing, this method of earning money has become more and more popular among young Iranians. Tahoora Shahbazi, who joined a network marketing company in November, told Al-Monitor, “The entire process of joining and earning money by using these networks takes two years. One must increase one’s tiers and branches and sell more products during these two years.”
When asked about the way these networks function, she said, “One major difference between these companies and pyramid-style companies is that with network marketing firms, one buys products. These products are not unusual products, but rather everyday goods, such as food — something that every family needs — or detergent and sanitary products, or even products such as watches, sunglasses, etc. These are the types of things that can be easily sold to friends or family members.”
In response to criticism of the similarities with pyramid schemes, which continues to cause hesitation among ordinary Iranians, one of the arguments put forth by supporters of network marketing is that it provides new ways to sell products — and that it has especially boosted trade in domestically made goods.