As would be expected in a country as diverse as South Africa it is difficult to give an overview of what to expect in a meeting situation in a few words.

Meeting styles will differ depending upon who you are dealing with – a traditional, white-dominated business, a start-up black African company or the subsidiary of a multi-national located in Johannesburg or Cape Town.

However, it is possible to give a few simple tips which are worth bearing in mind. Firstly, South Africans expect you to have a good idea of the current situation on the ground in South Africa. Show that you have done your research and that you have adapted your policies or ideas to meet the local conditions.

Secondly, take time in the meeting to try to develop a good relationship with the people you are doing business with. This is important within all sections of South African society as relationships have always formed the basis of good business – regardless of cultural background.

Thirdly, avoid anything that could be considered a hard sell approach. It is much better to be understated and patient with South African contacts as being too pushy will probably alienate people.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in South Africa

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in South Africa. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in South Africa and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips