Many business travellers say that South Africa is one of the best places in the world to eat out and your South African contacts will probably be eager to help you sample the delights of the many excellent restaurants on offer.

You are as likely to be asked out for lunch as dinner and may even be invited back to somebody’s home for a meal in the evening.

South African food is extremely varied and has its origins in the many cultures and peoples, which populate this cosmopolitan country. European, Indian, Malay, African and French cuisine are very common – with other influences coming from almost everywhere in the world.

Large amounts of meat are consumed in South Africa and vegetarians are often tolerated with wry amusement.

The tap water is safe in almost all areas as it is chemically treated. However, if you are unsure, bottled mineral water is widely available. Locally brewed beer and wines are of very high quality. You can find that normally conservative, serious business contacts become far less formal after a few beers over dinner.

Tipping for service is usual practice (rather than compulsory) in South Africa and usually ranges between 10% and 15% in restaurants

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

Free Download


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