Arab American Female POV: Post-Recession Business Model

PITA-Consumers, as PITAPOLICY covers and learns about the public and “third sector” practices from the World Bank & IMF Spring meeting this week, the private sector has not been forgotten!  PITAPOLICY contributors come from government, non-profit, and the private sectors. 

This week former investment banker, Hoda Tahoun, represents an Arab American female– equipped with an MBA–who left Wall Street in New York and is taking the entrepreneurial risk.  See below for her perspective in one of the fastest growing industries intersecting with the 21st century trend of socially responsible practices and “green” products.

The Business Model of the 21st Century

By: Hoda Tahoun

There is no doubt that we are still in difficult economic times. Companies continue to lay off people.  Unemployment still runs high: hovering around 8 percent in the US and above 10 percent in many pita-consuming countries. And morale generally is… well… dismal. People are working harder than ever before in jobs that they aren’t passionate about.  Dissatisfied employees do this so that they can keep their jobs, or worse even, be thankful that they struggle through a pay cut instead of being laid off.

If you’re like me, all of this would still not deter you from feeling that there must be another option. The good news is, there is. Unlike any job you’ve ever had, there is an opportunity out there that can give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Sound too fairy-tale like? Well yes, there is a catch. You’re going to have to work for it.

21st Century Business Model Includes Network Marketing
It was two years ago now that I was first introduced to Network Marketing. I had just moved back to New York City after living in Dubai for four years. As an Arab-American woman, I feel privileged to have had the chance to gain experience in of fastest growing business centers of the world, and quite proudly that it’s in the Arab World. I got to be a part of living and working in Dubai’s fantastic high times of glamour, success, and wealth, as an investment banker and had my fair (or even more so) of success. And then, like most people who worked in banking, I was there when it all came to a crashing economic halt. Similar to what happened in the US, people’s lives were changed overnight with downsizing, layoffs, and no hope for where the next job or paycheck would come from. Add to it being an expat and having to repatriate back to New York on my own dime. And the icing on the cake was that this all happened in early 2010 when Wall Street hadn’t finished spitting out investment bankers. Needless to say, job prospects looked bleak for me in terms of what was next in my career.

I had only been back in New York for a few weeks when a good friend told me to try some skincare products of a brand I had never heard of, Arbonne International. Having not much else to do, except wade through meager job postings, I took a full-sized set of products home and indulged my face and skin in some vegan and botanically-based products that my friend described “would change my skin”. I liked the products instantly. And then fell in love with them when everyone I met within days of my trial started noticing that my face was glowing. A few days after ordering my products, the same friend invited me to attend a presentation about Arbonne. As an investment banker, albeit an out of work one, she wanted my opinion on the business model, the company, and the growth plans. She knew that I had spent a career of 12 years analyzing companies and evaluating them; and so she asked me to put on my ‘business hat’ and listen.

Over the course of about 45 minutes, I heard about how people were ditching the traditional way of work, which is working to make their bosses money, and instead creating wealth for themselves. I heard how people were leveraging their time and duplicating a successful system of wealth creation that was residual and recession-proof. And they were doing this by doing something they do normally, which is referring people to products they love. I pondered for a brief moment as to all the referrals that I had made over the years for products or services I loved: fantastic hair salons, unique restaurants, quaint coffee shops, and for virtually everything else that I liked.. and never once did I get a financial reward for making that referral. And now I was being introduced to a business model that I could paid for making such referrals and telling people about something I loved? I didn’t have to stock nor deliver. I wouldn’t have to deal with payments as everything was done online. And I could do this business from virtually anywhere because all I needed was a phone and laptop. Well… they were the ones who are going to have to pay up because I am a talkative woman and I intended to tell everyone.

Investment Costs Reconsidered
From a business perspective, the company standing was solid. The sales growth had skyrocketed in the last few years as the Arbonne had expanded into a few new countries, now, the company was poised for full global expansion. The investment cost (usually a barrier to entry for most other business endeavors) was less than what the average spends on a week’s vacation. All important factors for a prospective investor.

So, this was all making sense. But as with any industry analysis, it’s important to know who is invested in these types of companies and who are the people endorsing this type of business model?

Well for one, Warren Buffet is not only an endorser of this type of business, but he is also invested in five (count them, five!) network marketing companies. Last time I checked, most of the world’s global businessmen aspire to Mr. Buffet’s business decisions without question. Who I am to argue with him? Robert Kiyosaki, the author of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, is another supporter of network marketing. His series of books explain that while most people are looking for a job so that they can work retirement and live modestly (he calls these people ‘poor’), rich people are building networks that they can get paid on. Check you the article he’s featured in with none other than Donald Trump, where they share their formula for success and wealth:

Mark Zuckerburg, case in point.

Finally, Paul Zane Pilzer endorses of this model of business. Paul is a respected economist and was an advisor for the Clintons. He first became highly recognized when he predicted the dot com boom, back in the 1960s. Yes. You read correctly, the 1960s.  He predicted that the boom would come from people purchasing products from their computers. Of course, back when computers were barely in each office, the world laughed at Mr. Pilzer. Today, nobody laughs when Mr. Pilzer makes an economic forecast and his next one is that the next wave of millionaires will be born from people who venture into network marketing and skincare, health, and wellness. So now do I have your attention?
What I heard that evening is the reason why I started my own Arbonne business today. I haven’t taken a headcount, but I am quite certain there are not enough Arab-American business owners, and certainly less who are women. Well, that’s what I love about this business. It gives the chance to everyone to be a business owner and the opportunity to earn the income you choose. Unlike other business models that have large financial investment costs to get started or may require special industry knowledge, this is a business model that allows you to “earn while you learn” and can have you earning an income from the first month you start.

My dream is to be able to create a means where I can contribute financially to my Arab community community, particularly with a focus on Arab Women. So much more can be done for our community, both on the ground here in the US as well as in the Arab World. Much more can be done in terms of education, healthcare, infrastructure, and so much more yet capital is scarce. There are some amazing people in networking marketing contributing hundreds of thousands of their own money to build schools, orphanages, and all types of other amazing charitable initiatives. And what better way to fund something I want to do than with my own wealth?

Arbonne has begun its’ global expansion and is currently in four countries. And now the company is buzzing about which countries will be announced next. And so it’s only a matter of time before Arbonne comes to the Arab world and people have the chance to take part in this incredible business opportunity. And this is where my true excitement about this business comes – the opportunities it will give us as a community to create wealth and make an impact!

Recession Proof Industry?
People ask me all the time how my business is doing in such ‘tough times’ and in a ‘rough economy’ and I LOVE that I get to tell people my business is booming! Yes, booming! I mean last I checked, even in a recession, people still take showers and women still buy cosmetics. That’s the beauty of this business: you’re showing people how to redirect their spending from products that they’re already using to Arbonne’s products. Last I checked, even in a recession, people still take showers and women still buy makeup. And so wouldn’t it be nice to earn an income for referring people to brand you love?

So.. if you’re tired of working for someone else; if you’re tired of your boss dictating how much and when you can take vacation; if you’re tired of someone telling you how much you can earn; and you’re just tired of the traditional way of working.. then take a moment and step off the hamster wheel.

Ask yourself: 1) where do you see yourself in 5 years if you continue to do exactly what you’re doing… will you be happy and will you be where you want to be financially? And, 2) If the primary source of income in your household were to be taken away due to lay-off, how long could you live off of your savings in a manner in which you’re accustomed?

It’s time to work smarter and earn what you deserve. And unless you’re working on the next new ‘Facebook’ idea, then now is the time to look into this business. It’s time to dream BIG and know that there is something else out there that will get you to where you want to be: more money, more vacation time, and basically more choices for you to live the life you’ve always wanted. And it’s all possible

In all my years of banking, I have not come across a smarter way to create wealth than this one.

Whether or not you are Middle Eastern-American, or a Muslim-American.. whether you are a PITA-consumer and have witnessed the job trends that have hindered career development and entrepreneurship or you are just looking to expand your financial portfolio… .  PITA-consumer, I invite you to explore the above business model.

I look forward to answering your questions that I needed addressed for my career goals when exploring Arbonne.
Note: Hoda Tahoun received her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Rutgers University and her Masters in Business Administration, with a Concentration in Finance and International, from New York University. Hoda may be reached via her website at: or email her at

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