A global direct selling giant entangled in controversy and political connections.

Amway, founded in 1959 by Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel, is a company that operates on a direct selling model, allowing individuals to become Amway Business Owners (ABOs) and sell products directly to consumers. This business structure has led to debates on whether Amway operates as a cult or a legitimate business opportunity.

Amway positions itself firmly against the characterization of being a cult. The company emphasizes its business model as a direct selling platform, akin to other large, established companies with a unique environment defined by shared business goals. Amway asserts that its ABOs, like owners of any growing business, are hardworking and enthusiastic individuals who see the Amway opportunity as a viable path to achieving their personal and financial goals. The company offers training, motivation, and support to its ABOs, rewarding them for their sales achievements and the expansion of their sales networks​​.

Critics, however, have raised concerns about Amway’s business practices and its deep political connections, particularly within the Republican Party and conservative circles in the United States. A report from Religion Dispatches highlighted the intertwining of Amway’s leadership with Christian-oriented family values and their substantial financial contributions to conservative political causes and institutions. This has led to accusations of Amway selling a “phony version of the American Dream” and exploiting the aspirations of ordinary Americans for the financial gain of its founders. The company’s founders, DeVos and Van Andel, have been criticized for using their wealth to influence a conservative makeover of American society, leveraging their financial success to support right-wing institutions and causes over the years​​.

Despite these controversies, Amway remains a significant player in the global direct selling industry, with a presence in over 100 markets worldwide. The company continues to defend its business model and the opportunities it provides to individuals seeking to establish their businesses within the direct selling framework.

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