Our Story

The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF), created in 1973 by visionary leaders of the Direct Selling Association, serves the public as the industry’s goodwill ambassador. As a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)3 organization, DSEF offers comprehensive programs that advance education about the industry and individual economic empowerment.

Our Purpose

The purpose of the Direct Selling Education Foundation is to engage, equip and empower educators to provide students with an accurate understanding of the direct selling industry as a powerful go-to-market strategy, distribution model and entrepreneurial option.

To further support our overall mission, DSEF partners with professors and educators, primarily at the collegiate level, who are interested in including direct selling as a topic in their various curricula. We provide teaching content for educators and classrooms alike to facilitate this process. The Foundation also advances direct selling-related research conducted by DSEF Fellows. And we host Campus Events throughout the year, which include classroom visits by direct selling company executives through our Speakers Bureau.

What is Direct Selling?”

This question is one we hear often. In many ways, direct selling captures the spirit of healthy entrepreneurship like no other business model.

Direct selling is:

A Micro-entrepreneurship Opportunity

The direct selling channel differs from broader retail in an important way. It isn’t only about getting great products and services into consumers’ hands. It’s also an avenue where entrepreneurial-minded Americans can work independently to build a business with low start-up and overhead costs. Direct selling consultants work on their own, but affiliate with a company that uses the channel, retaining the freedom to run a business on their own terms.

Direct selling companies offer a business platform that any aspiring entrepreneur can tap into and leverage for themselves. Digital technology and social media enable the entrepreneur to scale at minimal cost, and leverage this business platform in a way that makes sense to them personally.

A Preferred Go-To-Market Strategy

Direct selling is a retail channel used to market products and services to consumers. Direct selling companies use an independent sales team to market their products or services and provide low start-up and overhead costs. For many companies and product lines,  direct selling as a go-to market strategy, can be more effective than traditional advertising or securing premium shelf space. It’s a distribution method that is gaining more and more attention from new and established business owners alike. Companies can essentially license their brand and company assets to independent distributors to amplify their own corporate activities across thousands of personal networks.

A Powerful Entrepreneurial Engine

The data suggests an upward trend in the channel, as direct selling has experienced impressive long-term and short-term growth. Since 2016, direct selling has grown from $179.1 billion to $182.6 in global retail sales. Due to this incredible growth, traditional retailers worldwide have begun to look into direct selling in order to expand their market share. In 2016, a record-breaking 20.5 million Americans were involved in direct selling—representing one in six US households. Estimated direct retail sales of $35.54 billion in 2016 is the second highest in direct selling history.