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Amway Forever: The Amazing Story of a Global Business Phenomenon by Kathryn A. Jones

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Yearning for Earnings in Eastern Europe

As the former Soviet Union’s rule crumbled in eastern Europe in 1989 and 1990, Amway set up business in Poland. Workers protesting their poor working conditions had created a sweeping political movement and a trade union—Solidarity—that brought down the Communist government and elected the union’s charismatic leader, Lech Walesa, president.

As more countries opened their borders and their economies to the capitalism their governments once condemned, Amway wasted no time getting set up in those markets as well: the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1994, Slovenia in 1995, and Romania in 1997, Croatia in 2001, and Ukraine in 2003. In 2008, sales in the Czech Republic totaled about $454 million and one couple—Roman and Gita Hassmannovi—made Executive Diamond and the cover of the Amagram magazine there. In Slovenia, seven distributors achieved Diamond status by 2008. Romania’s bloody revolution against Communism in 1989 led to the execution by firing squad of its ruling couple, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. After Amway arrived on the business scene in 1997, it took three years before sales posted solid growth. About 500,000 authorized distributors have signed up, and the number of privileged clients—those who join Amway to buy products, not to sell them—runs in the thousands and rising. But the strategies that worked in, say, Germany do not carry over to Romania. “We are working at European level (sic) and countries are very different; there is no ...

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