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MMM: In pursuit of money or meaning?


Horace Greeley once said, “The darkest hour in any man’s life is when he sits down to plan how to get money without earning it.” Your ambition is poor if it is all about making money! The poor chase money while the rich attract money. The right way to make money is not chasing it but attracting it. When the ambition of a man is chasing after money; wealth becomes elusive. The ravaging news of the new money spinning venture called “MMM” is now making unprecedented coverage across the country. Though I have nothing personal against it but I will like to start with a brief story of this ‘wealth Abracadabra ‘ and unveil the golden virtues that this wealth networking business is gradually destroying though unnoticed among the Nigerian youths.

MMM was founded in 1989 by three Russian – Sergey Mavrodi, his brother Vyacheslav Mavrodi, and Olga Melnikova. The name of the company was derived from the first letters (M) of the three founders’ surnames, thus MMM. The company went into varying form of ventures and started attracting money from private investors, promising annual returns of up to one thousand per cent. Subsequently, the company was accused of tax evasion by the Russian authorities thereby grounding their operations. After several unsuccessful attempts at diversification, it successfully turned into a Ponzi scheme in 1994.

MMM grew rapidly. In February 1994, the company reported dividends of 1,000%, and started an aggressive TV ad campaign. Since the shares were not quoted on any stock exchange and the company itself determined the share price, it maintained a steady price growth of thousands of per cent annually, leading the public to believe its shares were a safe and profitable investment. However, it became bankrupt in 1997 due to series of tax issues and unrealistic promises of excessively high returns (up to 200 per cent and even more, in some cases). Sergey Mavrodi was arrested in 2003 and convicted of fraud in 2007 with a four and a half years prison sentence. In 2011, MMM rebranded itself and continued to spread to different parts of the world. They landed in South Africa in 2015, promising a 30 per cent monthly return. They saw potentials in Nigeria and penetrated the Nigerian market fully early in 2016(at about the same period they were banned in China).

The outgoing President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, said, “Focusing your life solely on making money shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.” The first thing that MMM is gradually encroaching upon in the Nigerian youths is the issue of ‘purpose’. When a man pursues purpose; fulfilment is inevitable. When a man pursues money, then fulfilment will always be elusive. It is only people that are driven by purpose that will ultimately be relevant in life. The pursuit of money alone will always make you inconspicuous in the crowd. In his best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?”, Rick Warren summarily emphasized that the purpose of life is simply to live a life of purpose. When a man pursues purpose, money comes ultimately. The great Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful”.

The second thing that MMM is gradually destroying among the youths is their problem solving abilities. Most of the richest people in the world were just trying to solve a problem and ended up becoming the richest. Mike Murdock said, ‘’money is the reward you get for solving someone’s problem’’. It is fraud when you plan to get money without solving a problem! Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa said, ‘’every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems, before returning home.’’ Dangote was passionate about solving problems and undoubtedly became the richest in Africa. Bill Gates, who has remained the world’s richest man for several years is a philanthropist committed to giving 95% of his fortune to charity. It is not unusual that the man noted for solving most of the software problems in the world eventually became the richest. Money has a path; it will always flow to the direction where problems are solved. The world of today is more effective just by looking through Bill Gates’ windows!

The next danger of MMM is that it directly or indirectly kills initiatives and ideas. Napoleon Hill said, ‘’ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes”. Personally, I believe that ideas are ‘wealth’ in waiting. There is no man that is poor, everyman is rich in something; the rich are rich in ideas while the poor are rich in ignorance! Pursue ideas and not money.

+-Another damaging effect of MMM is that it is gradually destroying work ethics in the youths. The ‘fever’ of MMM will one day go, just like those of pennywise of the past. The reality is that all net-working wealth ventures ultimately have their peak periods; it is the early birds that catch the fattest worms. I am saying this to anybody that cares to listen: MMM is not sustainable. The truth is that some people will find it very hard to return back to their work ethic, simply because MMM has brought into them, the complacency and redundancy factor.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange Essay Competition for this year was actually designed around making wise investment decisions. The topic of the essay: “What is the biggest obstacle to saving and investing money and how can The Nigerian Stock Exchange help?” In this time of economic recession, Nigerians need to be educated on the importance of financial frugality, delayed gratification and wise investment decisions. I want to reach out to the Nigerian Stock Exchange to design a massive awareness initiative to educate Nigerians on the importance of making wise investment decisions. The NSE must not keep quiet on the issue of MMM.

It was a gloomy story some few days ago when an MMM participant and final year student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, committed suicide in the most intriguing way. The deceased left a note behind where he apologised to his family for misplacing his priorities. The issue of young people running after money without any definite and concrete plans to add value to the world is appalling. The Nigerian youth should be a solution and not a problem in the contemporary Nigeria. Let us stop the ‘mad’ and ‘demented’ rush after money; let us proffer solutions to problems and earn money credibly. Work hard towards evolving an idea that will solve problems and not just make money the object of your pursuit. Pursue ‘meaning’, value and purpose. To the Nigerian youths; I say, ‘’we are the solution that Nigeria is waiting for’’.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Some people are so poor, all they have is money”-Patrick Meagher

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  • Damilola Onakoya Robert

    You have an idea that can change your world, something that can put food on people’s table and give them a better life, but no funds to execute, investors are not willing either bcos of greed, instead of investing in your idea they wann steal it and at the end make a mess of it.

    My point, its not everyone that chases money that won’t be fulfilled it’s how the money you got is used that determines if you’d be fulfilled or not.

    Maybe your next topic Should be about foundational GREED that has badly eaten up our system.

    By the way am not an MMM promoter but I’ve heard people do it and made money. But I can tell you I lost a lot of money in stocks….its all risk at the end, and he who has the mind to take one, let them.

  • Paul Kelvin

    I completely support your claim. In all entirety, every point made is valid and holds water on a long term.
    But also take into considerations that ideas and innovations are not born out of the blue. Your environments contributes a lot to your thought process and to your overall brain capacity. Also, a good environment allows for creativity and the rising need to solve problems relating to making life better.
    The average Nigerian youth doesn’t have this kind of environment and is challenged with survival on a daily basis so that no matter how much or how hard you focus on your work, you find it difficult to make ends meet.
    I am not a promoter of online schemes also but realistically, schemes like this will continue to grow and survive in our societies until we have enabling environments for youths to perform adequately. Or at least to a certain degree, support those who put in work so as to encourage others to do the same.

  • Adewale

    Sentimental write-ups. The rich are into MMM.

  • Black Senator

    Most people tend to fight what they don’t understand. Someone’s idea has been able to legally put food on the table of many Nigerians and you want me to accept it’s a fraud because of your academic submissions.

    What you don’t understand stand is that just as stocks and other various investments were opposed at the outset before they were finally embraced, that’s how I see the future of MMM.

    Many so called sure legal investments have come and gone. MMM may not last forever but we will maximise it’s benefits while it’s last.

  • ernest abia

    It will interest you to know that the majority of mmm and such schemes participants is civil servants and the working populace. When you are in a society that doesn’t encourage entrepreneurs and reward ideas no matter how credible such schemes will thrive because you need food to even think. I work as a professional solving problems daily but after so many years I am rewarded with a pay cut. I think we should focus on writing about the real issues of our country and stop this propaganda journalism.

  • ohio àj

    Every investment comes with a risk. Even the so called wise investment like shares crashed sometime ago and many investors went into bankruptcy. I am not a fan of MMM but the society has shaped the minds of the participants into the scheme. It’s a pursuit for survival….

  • emeka

    mr writer what is idea without finance?all this big people you just mention where sponsor or supported by someone true finance or moreso borrowed your money from the bank to invest in their various businesses where you are given nothing in return.this program have help lot of people to achieve their various dreams both the rich and the poor.infact it as help the youth in empowering of their dream instead of waiting for onseen fake promiseless visionless government since 1960 till now to accomplish their promises which as not be confirmed.mmm has come to stay where both poor and rich can feed well and see their dreams achieved or are you not happy that is helping out.hmmm am suspecting you the writer.every dream of a rich man is to impact life positively which mmm is doing if you are not among to help people then you must be wrong.God bless nigerian God bless participate and God bless mmm longlive together we can change the world.thanks

  • Kennedy

    The writer of this piece have made my day. Thank you so much. Its is a wise counsel to those with discerning minds.

  • Nzube Chukwudi Ananti

    This write-up is not satisfying. Greed is evil. Many of the richest people the writer mentioned did one or more greedy things. When an industrialist values monopoly to the point of eliminating almost all competition, it is not evil greed?

    Also why just MMM? A lot of ROIs have been existing before, around and after the emergence of MMM, but all the condemnations have only gone to MMM. Why?

    It is because MMM is SUCCESSFUL!

    Mavrodi can have all his bad past, but unlike his old scheme or other schemes by other people, in this scheme you put your money into subscribers directly.

    I am not a promoter but it’s better to say things as they are. Many people I know are not in MMM to be very rich but to get an extra money.

    MMM may die. But let’s allow that to happen naturally not by unbalanced submissions.

  • BIT Associate

    Please, writer, you should ask yourself the last month that the federal and state government paid salaries to the Civil servants. Also, ask yourself, the last Job that was created by any small or major company in Nigeria that has helped to reduce the teeming unemployed graduate that are roaming in our street. Also, research on Bank loans and determine how many percent interest you have to pay if it is even possible for you to get Loans. Also, ask the present day Nigeria Leaders what is their agenda in eradicating poverty.. I know you are jealous because you can’t take the risk to give out with the expectation that someone will reward you with 30% in return. Even the developed countries like Great Britain, USA, Netherlands, Germany, Japan e.t.c moves their Citizens out of Poverty level by leveraging on similar philosophy via a regulated approach as a small loans and saving sheme with zero percent interest for their citizens to be able to increase their purchasing power and household income. Without money how do you create wealth or solve other people problem. Please, research very well before coming out with writeup that is against modern pilosophy of creating wealth at the grassroot level. I know of young Nigerians who has use the MMM Profit to setup small business that has employed one to four people on each segment of the enterprise, calculate the positive effect on the present day numbers of registered participant of 2.4 million Nigeria. Don’t you know that the Crime rate in Nigeria has reduced drastically because of MMM? Cultism in our institutions has recorded the lowest patronage in recent times . Please you are encouraged to participate in MMM or you should rest your case.

    • Joey

      BIT Associates……..I am not really in support of all these money making tinz but u have made a very gud point here. And i see it that if these schemes grow well then the rich in our communities wld lose their celeb stands as even the minors now will soon compete with them….i dnt think they wld like dat. Lmao. Good one.

  • Chuka

    Kai, my own submission is simple, early Portuguese merchants exchanged our palm oil,spices, cocoa etc for cowries, broken mirrors, empty whisky bottle etc, our brothers and sisters sold into slavery for less. Today, what bigger fraud is there than most paper currencies , bonds and securities. I recommend barter for a period of two years and the whole economy will fully revive.