20 years Of Empowering Women

The largest direct-selling company in South Africa, Avon Justine, is this year celebrating 20 years in South Africa. The company came into being after Avon joined the market in 1996 with the acquisition of Justine. Together, Avon Justine has been empowering women across the country ever since, enabling them to make a sustainable income in an economy characterised by high unemployment and low participation of women.

In fact a 2012 Oxford University study found that:

  • Avon Representatives in South Africa with 16 months or more in the system earned enough to cover a typical household’s expenditures for food, non-alcoholic beverages, clothing, shoes and healthcare.
  • The Representatives’ income placed them in the top half of black females in their community and brought them in line with what a black South African man earns.
  • 75% of the Representatives reported that Avon had helped them achieve financial autonomy and nearly 90% said they had learned skills from Avon that could be transferred into other employment.

The company’s earning opportunity has provided countless women to live out a rags to riches story; one independent Representative, Alice Mthini, was a domestic worker in Gauteng for 21 years before she started her own Avon business and going on to own her own home, car and taking her children through private schooling. From selling tomatoes in the streets of Venda in Limpopo, Ntuwiseni Marubini in Limpopo has become a self-sufficient business woman who now has three cars in addition to recently furnishing her home. In the Eastern Cape, Nontsikelelo Yvonne Nomatye, was given a lifeline through direct selling allowing her to take care of her two sons while remaining financially independent after she was retrenched after twenty years working at a large factory. Former teacher, Brenda Buthelezi in KwaZulu-Natal was able to pay off all her debt and realise her dream of owning a beauty salon, after she too took up Avon’s earning opportunity. Independent Justine Consultant, Keku Martina Legodi, doubled her monthly income when she left her job as a manager at a bank to focus on her Justine business.

In addition to its earning opportunity, the company has Corporate Social Responsibility programmes that focus on issues pertaining to women including a sustained campaign to help end violence against women as well as a breast cancer education and awareness programme.

Avon has raised over R7 million since 2010 and has worked with over 10 NGOs nationally to educate the public about gender based violence with a view to changing attitudes and eventually the behaviours of men who abuse women. In addition, Avon Justine has donated over R20 million towards breast cancer education and awareness in the country, reaching over 15 million South Africans with key breast cancer messages with the aim of saving lives.

The company is aiming to significantly step up its efforts in empowering women as it looks to play a pivotal role in battling the country’s high unemployment rate. “Beauty for A Purpose, this statement sums up what we are about as a company and what we aim to achieve through our earning opportunity as well as Corporate Social Responsibility programmes,” says Vicky Saunders-Flaherty, Avon Justine Communications Manager. “We want to empower that many more South African women over the next twenty years”.


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