The Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s (SNNP)Region Health Bureau has prohibited Tiens’ network marketers from selling food supplements, claiming that their methods of selling their products contradicts health regulations.
The bureau said Tines products are sold in formally when sales should happen in drug stores.
“We are not against the network marketing system, we are not against the product, but we noticed many young people carrying Tiens products in plastics bags and knocking on people’s doors to sell it, which is against health regulations,” said Berdin Redi (PhD), Head of the Regional Food Regulatory and Inspection Department.
Berdin said the bureau had requested the marketers to be licensed and to sell the products in drug stores. Network marketers did not respond to this request, arguing that door-to-door marketing is used in other places, without condemnation.
The health bureau is fed-up of chasing the illegal vendors and had requested Tiens Group to take strict measures on its members who defy the regulation, says Berdin.
Tiens Group opened a local branch in Ethiopia in 2007 to distribute supplementary food capsules imported from China. The company has over 200,000 members who sell its products thorough network marketing, a method of providing goods and services to customers replacing retail ‘middle men’ with a network of independent distributors. These distributors periodically buy the products for personal use and also formulate a small nucleus of at least five people under their care, so the network keeps on multiplying into a giant system of vending. The distributors earn a percentage of the volume of the retail income they generate from training and leading in a network of people.
Tiens Group’s Public Relations Officer says that the Group works in line with the Health Bureau’s regulations and that only 16 local distributors are mandated to sell their products.
“We import the products and sell them to distributors who have an agreement with us to distribute the products. The members are commissioned workers contacted by distributors, but all the products are sold in legal centers, not by peddlers. We’re strictly against the door-to-door marketing, which is against our principle,” the officer said.
Currently, Tiens sell 12 different products in Ethiopia.