As unemployment, layoffs and low borrowing hit Nigeria hard, MMM came, offering participants an online Nigerian community that can give thirty percent rewards on their donations to each other.
MMM Nigeria has been greeted with applause from many and tough criticism and scepticism from others. From the security man who has to live on peanuts to the chief executive who cannot access bank loans, everyone seems to feel richer and comfortable not necessarily because they have a lot of cash but because they have “confidence” that whenever they need cash, they have a community that can donate to them. This is what MMM claims is its ideology. Love over selfishness. For these people, MMM is a saviour and they won’t allow any criticism change their view. It is amazing to see thousands of Nigerians donating to each other.
Some other people don’t buy this. They believe “it’s too good to be true”. They believe MMM is a ponzi scheme because it allegedly needs new members to continue to thrive.
MMM Nigeria has however continued to grow even with bad media, something that really worries the critics and spectators. MMM Nigeria participants spend millions of naira monthly giving to thousands of less privilege persons in hospitals and orphanage homes, spending time with them in almost every state in Nigeria.
According to their website (www.nigeria-mmm.net) and hundreds of participants interviewed, thousands of Nigerians have benefited from donations they provide to each other through the MMM platform. A participant, Ade, got donations of about N900,000 donations to pay for his medical bills after previously donating N500,000.
MMM boasts of transparency by having no central account (so the money cannot be easily stolen) and being truthful with participants. MMM strongly warns participants to donate only spare money and stick to the ideology of helping each other. MMM resists those who want to get rich quick on its platform by putting limitations on possible donations (ten thousand dollars) and removing participants with multiple accounts.
These moves by MMM seem not to impress critics, they argue that MMM has collapsed severally first in Russia, South Africa and recently Zimbabwe. Research shows the Russian government in 1994 saw MMM as a threat and seized millions of participants monies in the MMM head office thereby leading to the collapse. The Russian government excuse was “MMM didn’t pay taxes”. It is hard to trust a Russian government who jailed and killed Nicolai (a foremost economist) by a firing squad for simply predicting the fall of socialism. The founder of MMM was arrested for not paying taxes (which was impossible because there was no law in Russia to tax a joint stock company for selling stocks) and later released when he was voted into parliament in millions of Russians. Clearly, they didn’t see him as the person who stole their money, they knew what their government had done hence the overwhelming vote.
South African banks and media strongly believed MMM was a threat to their economy. The media trial created a panic among participants who didn’t really understand the MMM ideology thereby leading to a panic. People stopped donating to each other. The media apologised to MMM after the disaster and banks unfroze accounts of participants. MMM South Africa restarted and became stronger (www.rsa-mmm.net).
The Zimbabwe story is what is completely untrue. I personally reached out to hundreds of Zimbabweans (participants and non-participants). It is really surprising who is sponsoring such lies, a Zimbabwe participant said. Another Zimbabwe participant said “only some Nigerian online media are broadcasting this false news”. A simple google search of “MMM Zimbabwe” reveals only Nigerian media carried the news which had been posted months back by a Zimbabwe blog. The news was edited to paint MMM Zimbabwe as dead. According to Zimbabweans, the Zimbabwean structure was remodelled to become like the Nigerian structure (which is one of the strongest in the world). They moved from 100% rewards to 20% rewards on their donations. Why Nigeria media carried a false news and why it happened at the same time remains unknown.
What is clear is thousands of MMM participants in Nigeria are spending even in a recession thereby keeping a lot of small and big businesses afloat. MMM participants are also able to finance their entrepreneurial dreams with donations received thereby creating jobs. An edge non-participants really envy.
The job seekers, students and pensioners are able to search, study and live happily knowing if they need help, they have a solid community that can come to their aide.
Smart businesses are seeking the patronage of MMM participants because they seem to be able to live comfortable in a recession. One of the MMM Nigerian participants wrote “we don’t have billions individually but we have so much as a community”.
I sought to inquire if cheap money is good for the economy. A participant replied me “Do you know how hard it is to convince you that MMM is real? It’s not cheap money. I spent days convincing my family to participate in MMM. It’s hard work. I work as a clerk. My boss can’t give me a raise because we have lost most of our customers. I haven’t been paid for months. MMM is the only reason I can still come to work and not beg for money to pay my children’s school fees, feeding and rent. Would you say it’s bad for the economy?” He asked.
My final question to this participant was “how long will MMM Nigeria last?”. He said ” as long as we refuse to panic and keep helping each other. Divided we fall, together we will change our world. We must audit every news and verify every rumour. We must be wary of friends who are waiting to laugh at us. They can’t be our source of news or information. We must be strong and surround ourselves with like minded people. This way MMM Nigeria will last for a long time”.
My prediction: MMM Nigeria’s future in the next one week, one month, one year is in the hands of its participants. If they keep providing helping to each other, we will be unable to break them no matter what we do. Their destiny is in the collective togetherness.
By: Kolawole Emmanuel