Both US and overseas companies respond and adjust to the disruptions caused by the Russian invasion
As the global business community continues to adjust to the strain of a years-long supply chain disruption prompted by pandemic restrictions and compounded by inflationary pressures in many markets, numerous direct selling companies have made further impactful moves in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Several direct sellers, both U.S. and overseas-based companies, have announced policy and operational changes, as well as plans to contribute to Ukrainian relief efforts, in light of the Russian government’s violent attack on its neighbor.
4Life Provides Direct Support to Ukrainian Children
Sandy, Utah-based 4Life has partnered with The Children’s Home in Boyarka, Ukraine, for 10 years through its Foundation 4Life. The specialty institution is one of Ukraine’s largest, which houses more than 100 children and provides medical care, primary education, and life skills training.
The 4Life website reports that the children were moved to a dark basement in the home as air raids threatened the area. However, Foundation 4Life Director of Service Jenna Lisonbee reports that the children are now safe after relocating to Poland.
“Our wartime efforts with SOS Children’s Villages in the Ukraine have been effective, although we are also aware that so much more is required,” Lisonbee says.
“Yes, Foundation 4Life programming is in process of assisting 45,000 families and, yes, the children of the orphanage in Boyarka, the one Foundation 4Life has served for the last decade, have been evacuated safely to Poland. Still, we are extremely sensitive to the necessity of timing for those many families who remain in the Ukraine. Therefore, our immediate efforts are combining contributions from worldwide 4Life affiliates and employees alike, with our European staff taking the lead.”
Tyler Madsen, vice president of global markets, says, “We are in constant communication with our Ukrainian friends and business partners. Our executive team is strategizing ways to provide ongoing support to those suffering in Ukraine. I send my love, as well the love of our Founders David and Bianca Lisonbee, and President and CEO Danny Lee.”
Amway Offers Ukrainian Relief While Considering Impact of Halt on its Russian Partners
Amway has joined many other major companies in pausing its operations in Russia. Cindy Droog, Amway’s vice president of global communications, reputation, and corporate social responsibility, told the NBC affiliate in the company’s home state of Michigan, “The regulatory and supply chain environment for doing business in Russia is extremely challenging.”
Addressing the timing of her company’s suspension of operations, Droog stated that the company was hesitant to disrupt the incomes and livelihoods of Amway’s hundreds of thousands of Russian distributors.
Amway also has over 2,000 employees and distributors in Ukraine with the main office located in Kiev as well as shopping centers in Dnepropetrovsk, Lviv, and Odessa. The company has begun the transition from business operations to relief work in the war-torn country, including support for Ukrainians fleeing to Poland.
“… We have between 500 to 600 employees there (Poland) to embrace them, bring them in, and help them with shelter and food and clothing and transportation,” Droog said. “But even toys. Some of them came into Poland and other countries with their kids and could only take one small suitcase or backpack.”
In an official statement on March 4, Amway announced that teams across the globe would be donating supplies and money to Global Impact’s Ukraine Relief Fund, UNICEF, hospitals and shelters, and directly to employees in need of food, housing, and safe passage. The company pledged to match these donations with no limit from its U.S.-based World Headquarters as well as from other markets.
Avon Remains Active in Russia While Parent Company Postpones U.S. Stock Listing
Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura &Co, the parent company behind The Body Shop, Aesop and Avon Products, recently announced its operations strategy for addressing the Russia/Ukraine situation. The company will suspend product delivery in Russia to The Body Shop and Aesop, but Avon will continue to maintain its operations there “in support of Representatives who operate as independent entrepreneurs,” according to the company’s official statement posted
“We believe restricting their access to products would have an outsize impact on women and children there. For 135 years, Avon has stood for women wherever they are in the world, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, age, or religion. There is no financial advantage to Natura &Co being in Russia,” the statement concludes.
In a LinkedIn post, Avon CEO Angela Cretu said, “While Ukrainian people fight for their survival, many of us feel that we can’t do more than sending emojis around. But we can. At Avon, we insured direct contact with each of our associates in distress, looking for ways to ensure their safety and financial support to their particular needs, our neighboring Avon countries are supporting the refugees centers. Our voice and individual action matter.”
Natura &Co is working with organizations such as the Red Cross and local NGOs with funds and personal-care products for refugees.
Citing high volatility in global equity markets brought on by the war in Ukraine, Natura &Co postponed the transfer of its primary stock listing to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) that was set to be listed under the ticker symbol NTCO. Bloomberg reports that the company will direct its immediate attention to the turnaround of Avon Products Inc. and will consider again the Stock Exchange move at a later date.
Faberlic CEO Provides Update
Reporting over 10 million customers and over 100,000 independent consultants, Moscow-based Faberlic is the largest Russian direct selling company and manufactures beauty, cosmetic and personal-care products in multiple countries around the world. Faberlic launched in the U.S. in late 2021. In a post to the official UK/Ireland Faberlic Facebook page, CEO Konstantin Barmashov stated:
“As a global company, Faberlic is committed to maintaining business continuity and serving our customers around the world during this turbulent time. As the political crisis between Russia and Ukraine continues to escalate since February 22, we would like to share what we know now:
“Sanctions by the United States and European countries against the Russian government and organizations associated with it were introduced on February 24. They are directed against the inner circle of the President of Russia and some specific Russian banks.
“Faberlic does not partner or work with these individuals or banks to manage our global structures and we do not expect this to affect our operations.
“Faberlic operates in 46 countries around the world and we strive to continue serving our customers around the world.
“If the situation changes and adaptations are required to maintain the quality of our services, we will inform you of these changes as soon as possible. You are part of the Faberlic family and we value you!”
Herbalife Suspends Russian Operations While Assisting Victims and Employees in Affected Regions
Herbalife released a statement on March 11 condemning the war in Ukraine and noting that the company has 44,000 active distributors in Russia since its launch there in 1995. The Los Angeles-based nutrition company announced that it would be suspending operations in each of its 62 sales centers in Russia and will no longer ship supplies there.
The Herbalife release also stated that the company is actively supporting its employees in the region and providing nutrition products and financial aid to organizations supporting impacted communities.
MONAT Global Donates Sales and Matches Gifts
MONAT Global, the Doral, Florida-based beauty and hair-care direct seller has committed to matching all donations up to $50,000 while working with Polish Humanitarian Action and International Rescue Committee. The company will provide essential hygiene products to refugees, donating 100 percent of European sales of its More Than a Lather product. MONAT also made a $10,000 gift to Polish Humanitarian Action.
Nu Skin Suspends Russian Business
Provo, Utah-based Nu Skin announced on March 4 that it had suspended operations in Russia, effective immediately. The company said, “Our heartfelt thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and to all who are affected by these tragic events. We hope that this conflict will come to an end soon and that peace will prevail.”
Oriflame Suspends Operations in Russia
Swedish direct seller Oriflame said in a March 7 press release that its main priority was to provide “personal safety and every possible support to our employees and their families, as well as to help our brand partners and people in Ukraine.”
The company confirmed that its Ukraine operations have closed to ensure the safety of its 115 employees there and that production from its Russian factory would be redistributed to other manufacturing sites.
While the March 7 statement stated that “Oriflame has decided to keep our Russian social selling business open for the time being with the aim to support our brand partners and their families many of which have Oriflame as the only source of income,” the company put out a subsequent press release on March 21 announcing that it would further reduce operations in Russia by suspending investments, marketing, training, and events. The beauty and wellness company also announced a suspension of online sales to Russian end consumers. “These actions will have a material impact on our business in Russia,” said the company.
Young Living Partners with NCOs and Assists Ukrainian Employees
Lehi, Utah-based Young Living, through its Young Living Foundation, is partnering with two organizations supporting displaced families—Asociatia Casa Share and British-Ukrainian Aid.
The Foundation’s website states that donations will help provide food, medical and psychological care, emergency supplies, and shelter to refugee families fleeing conflict. Young Living is covering all administrative costs and matching donations up to $100,000.
The company is advancing salary payments to Ukrainian employees and paying commissions at pre-war levels to brand partners, as well as working with bussing companies to provide transportation for staff members and their families who wish to leave Ukraine.
SELDIA Coordinates with Ukrainian Direct Selling Association
SELDIA, the European Direct Selling Association, reports that it has remained in constant contact with the Ukrainian Direct Selling Association, which is a member of SELDIA, as well as a Ukrainian commerce group.
“We are thankful that our colleague from the Ukrainian Direct Selling Association is now safe in Warsaw. We look forward to welcoming her in person at the Seldia Conference on 10 and 11 May in Brussels. Our conference dinner will be dedicated to Ukrainians,” says Laure Alexandre, the Executive Director of SELDIA.
“Our focus at SELDIA has been to provide a safe space for our members to exchange about the consequences of the war, and keep members informed of the emergency regulations adopted in the EU. Seldia also joined Ukrainian Network Working Group of Eurocommerce, exchanging on supply chain disruptions and regulatory consequences for the months to come,” says Alexandre.