Avon in Africa: Reducing Poverty Through Global Exchange

Research Partners:

University of Oxford

Picture: Lyn Mores/Flickr licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Recent press reports have included glowing accounts of the wealth that poor women can earn selling Avon products in such unlikely places as Brazil and Thailand.  If these stories are representative—and not just newsworthy anomalies—then such schemes may be an important poverty reduction tool. 

Our study, located in South Africa, will assess the size and sustainability of the income Avon representatives earn, as well as the financial and social risks they must take to be in this system.  We will also study the way this selling system affects the communities into which it is introduced, to determine whether the Avon scheme actually generates new wealth for impoverished communities or whether it simply redistributes scarce resources among the poor.

As part of our assessment of the effects on the community, we will also compare Avon products to available, potentially cheaper substitutes and inquire into the purposes of product use by African consumers.  We will also study the communications between the Avon corporation and its local sales force, with attention to race and gender issues as reflected in both product offerings and marketing materials.  Finally, we will also be looking at the organizational structure to find guidelines for both public and private adaptations.

University of Oxford
Linda Marie Scott
Catherine Dolan
Primary theme: 
Themes: 
Grant Reference: 
ES/F026943/1
RES-167-25-0321
Project Status: 
Closed
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Said Business School
Fund Start Date: 
April 1st, 2008
Fund End Date: 
June 30th, 2010
Fund Currency Code: 
GBP
Fund Value: 
133437
manufactured-cosmetics
Avon
empowerment
multinational-corporations
women
informal-exchange-networks
local-sales-force
race
wealth
redistribution-of-resources
womens-economic-participation
well-being-
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