Tribalism and ethnic division led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis. Any word or idea that might lead to dividing Rwandans or favouring one group of a population over another will be not tolerated and might lead to dismissal.
Organisational structures are mostly hierarchical and employees expect the manager to direct them what to do.
Like most of high-power distance cultures, Rwandans do not call their managers by their names, they use their titles.
Promotion tends to be determined through achievement but sometimes relationships come into play.
Rwandans are not generally outspoken, therefore if you want to get their opinions call people’s names and ask them to share their ideas.
Employees tended to stay with one company for a long time since finding a new job takes up to 12 months.
Most of the time meetings start late, are lengthy and do not necessarily follow the order of the agenda.
It is hard to have two part-time jobs in Rwanda as the workforce is very big which means almost every position is full time.
Debates are non-confrontational, diplomatic and coded-language is very normal.
Rwandans do not do make eye contact – especially with superiors.
Rwandans make good team players – so long as they understand and approve of the team rules. However, bringing the managers and subordinates in the same room will paralyze the team mobility.
Maintaining good relationships is more important than personal goals. Therefore, Rwandans will accept interruptions to talk to people or answer phone calls.
When you invite people for a drink or food the invited person expects you to pay the bills.
In government offices, people use the local language but in most of the local and international corporations, English is the working language.
Rwanda is ranked number 5 globally in terms of gender equality with more than 50% seats in the parliament held by women. However patriarchal traditional culture is still a big challenge to the promotion of feminism.
Most of the Rwandan women work in agriculture. In business, a large portion of Rwandan women do small trade business.
Rwandans care a lot about physical appearance. People will be treated based on how they look and the style in which they dress.
Dress code during the workday is casual smart. Sandals and shorts are not appropriate in a working environment.
People may stand much closer to you than you are comfortable with. Try not to back away as this can appear rude.
Do not talk about politics with your coworkers as Rwandans are very loyal to the government and will suspect anyone trying to criticize the government.
This country-specific business culture profile was written by Keith Warburton who is the founder of the cultural awareness training consultancy Global Business Culture.
Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working. We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.
This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Rwanda only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.
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