MMM Russia has a dark untold history, it is easy to assume that the darkness was created by the founder(s) of MMM; however a deeper search reveals that there is a grand conspiracy that attempts to eliminate MMM and every other idea that tries to democratize luck.
MMM was conceived twenty seven years ago, for close to three decades, MMM’s failures have always been perpetrated by a class of people – the ruling class. I sought to understand why anyone will want to close down a community which claims to connect its participants to each other so that they can help each other.
Over the years, the answer has changed. In the 1990s, the popular answer was the founders kept all participants’ money and they could run with the money since government doesn’t monitor them. The early 2000s had a different answer; the popular opinion was the money was kept by guiders (participants who attend MMM school so that they can become leaders). There was fear that the guiders could run away with the money. The 2010s has a new answer, the answer is unclear. There is no logic to the answer. The answer is simple yet complex. The MMM critics of the 2010s believe even though MMM doesn’t collect money from its participants, MMM is still a scam. In the 2010s, MMM participants pay money to each other’s bank account. The money is in the bank, safe and secure. Or is there something deeper. Read on…
How and why did participants lose money in the 1990s? Russian government came one day with seventeen black vans to take all the billions of people’s monies with MMM (monies were kept in their head office) and they arrested its founder for tax invasion (not fraud). This happened in the presence of MMM participants, little wonder, the same MMM participants voted in millions to ensure MMM’s founder becomes a member of the Russian parliament. Mr Sergey Mavrodi’s (founder of MMM) victory at the polls was his ticket out of jail. Why did the story end badly for some participants? It is reported that some committed suicide because their money was taken. This was not them reacting to the man who was trying to make them financially free in a communist Russia, it was them reacting to a government that took all their monies away.
The major source of news about MMM is Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s founder is a wanted man in the United States of America and so many countries, he is in hiding; He unapologetically published personal mails allegedly hacked by Russia to influence an American election. Wikipedia has destroyed a lot of lives with its half truths and one sided stories. I find it hard to believe that we will trust Wikipedia without listening to the other party.
The prevalent question in my mind is why is the ruling class using its weapon (power, media and money) portraying MMM as a scam since MMM doesn’t collect money from its participants. It is like saying Facebook Inc. is a scam. Facebook cannot scam you (as a user) because facebook doesn’t collect money from you. You sign up for free. In the same light, participants sign up to MMM for free. MMM simply connects the participants to each other. The question is why? Zuckerberg was connecting us to old friends when he didn’t even know how Facebook will make profit, why? He said he wanted to create a more open and connected world. Mavrodi also claims he wants to create a fairer world, a fairer financial system.
We agree that MMM has never collected money from its participants since 1994, so why is it regarded as a scam. Critics say the system is not sustainable and at some point, it will crash. They say at some point, there will not be enough people to “provide help (an MMM term meaning donate money)” to those who want to “Get Help (an MMM term meaning receive money)”. To receive money, you must have previously donated or referred someone to join the community.
After reviewing their point, I believe what critics mean to say is; MMM is not a scam but MMM is not sustainable. At this point, there is no way MMM can use any fraudulent way to collect money from its participants, therefore I can say MMM is not a scam. If MMM opened a bank account, it would be frozen so there is no chance. MMM is not a scam but is MMM sustainable?
One thing I have learnt from the critics of MMM is their method of proving they are right. Their method is similar to what I saw in a movie. A lady wanted to proof her brother’s wife was a thief, so the lady stole an item and kept it in her brother’s wife purse. I began to wonder who the thief is. The World Bank and a lot of global organizations claim their goal is to reduce global extreme poverty yet they pay a lot of lip service to the pursuit of this noble goal.
They neglect the ideas that can truly reduce poverty and spend more time pursuing the policies of their sponsors (big global banks and individuals). Most critics of MMM will share untrue stories about MMM (like the MMM crash in Lagos or Zimbabwe) and do anything (it is amazing) to ensure the crash they had predicted eventually happens. They remind me of the woman in the movie. It is a dirty fight and I think MMM participants are not doing enough to share the light of what MMM is doing for them.
We have come to a conclusion that MMM is not a scam but we haven’t agreed it is sustainable. To understand its sustainability or un-sustainability, let’s do the scam test. If MMM fails today, who wins? No one wins emotionally but those who have gotten help win financially and those who have provided help lose financially. The MMM brand becomes worse and its founders will be cursed. So its founders don’t gain financially. It is some participants that gain financially and some participants lose financially. When I understood this truth, I stopped calling MMM a scam. I then wondered why Mr Sergey Mavrodi will keep punishing himself, his name, risking jail term or worse for a system that is not sustainable.
I wanted to understand his mind so I read his books (available on amazon), articles, saw his movie about MMM 94 (self sponsored by Mr Mavrodi with major actors from Russia and Hollywood. Available for free on Youtube and MMM website). I discovered he had one goal and I put it simply; Mr Sergey Mavrodi’s goal is to “democratize luck”. Henry Ford wanted to democratize cars and ensure it is affordable so that every hardworking person can buy one. Tony Elumelu wanted to institutionalize luck so he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation giving no-strings attached grants to 10,000 entrepreneurs within 10years. So many other people have big dreams such as this, to eliminate global poverty. Mr Sergey Mavrodi wants people to work not because they need money but because they enjoy the job, this way our school teachers by destiny won’t end up as bankers because of money – working hard at a job they hate. If money wasn’t king, people will do jobs they love and do it will the spirit of excellence. If Michael Jackson grew up in Nigeria, we would have ended up in ajegunle struggling. America doesn’t need Sergey’s MMM because they have their own version and the live their version, popularly called the American Dream. This dream helped Bill Gates sit down in meetings with IBM executives, get a loan of $1millions and more. In Africa and other third world nations, there is no dream for the people. There is pain, tears and sorrow. The big question is will this amazing dream of Mavrodi work with the MMM system?
The only way to know is to ask what the system itself is. It is participants donating money to each other and getting 30% reward. It is based on the principle that we don’t all need money at the same time. To understand it better, let us assume there are five people in MMM, Mr A, B, C, D and E. Mr A donates 10, 000 to Mr E (who has previously donated) Mr E uses the money to settle an urgent bill. Mr B donates to Mr A. Mr C donates to Mr B. Mr D donates to Mr C. Mr E gets his salary of 100,000, pledges to donate 15,000 and donates it to Mr D. Money is just moving round to settle debts, bills and create new value. The population the banks will never look at have found a new way to get the money they need without having to collect any loans. If they continue using their bank accounts, the banks will keep winning because of the fast movement of money leads to more bank charges. No new money is created so inflation is not created. No excess money will be in the economy. In essence, everyone wins.
The system can be sustained if everyone comes together to make it work. The banking system will fail if we all withdraw our money at the same time (bank run). Insurance companies will die if all but one person refuses to pay premiums; they will be unable to pay the person in case of any accident or loss.
MMM is good for Africa, it doesn’t compete with the banks because banks already do not loan money to the majority. The loans go to the 10% who have collateral which is good for banking. With MMM more people will open bank accounts (since MMM participants relate with their bank account) and banks will reach the unbanked. We need to get more Nigerians into the banking system. MMM has also helped banks promote their online and USSD banking platforms. MMM has helped entrepreneurs source for money for their ideas within a realistic time. MMM has inspired participants to spend more in a recession. This is keeping a lot of big and small businesses afloat. If you see anyone buying cars, houses or valuables in today’s Nigeria, they are probably involved in businesses where they earn in foreign currencies, extremely rich or engaged in … you guessed right – MMM.
This is good for everyone. The stock market can bounce back on the MMM wave as people become more confident to diversify. Nigerians are in positive spirit because of MMM. People who couldn’t pay school fees paid with ease. People eat better and live better. Over one million Nigerians engaged in MMM have positive story to tell.
After my research, I asked myself. Would I be the lady who wanted to proof her sister in-law is a thief so she stole and kept it in her sister in-laws bag or will I be the person who will find out if truly her sister-in-law is a thief and when I find her innocent, declare her to be innocent. My choice is clear.
I asked a member of the ruling class who instructed his human resource unit to send a mail warning all members of staff not to participate in MMM why he is anti-MMM. He said if they continue with MMM, one day, the might resign and see no need to work. I said really? So because you are a multi-millionaire, your kids won’t work? He then voiced his real concern. They will be financially free and won’t take his excesses anymore since they can start their own business or resign and not suffer while they search for a better working environment.
Article by Kolawole Emmanuel