Doing Business in South Africa
Doing business in South Africa can be very profitable to an organization because of the numerous resources such as gold mining in the country. However, before engaging in any business with any country, one should put into consideration certain factors that may affect the organization. Having a better understanding of the culture in South Africa facilitates profitability in an organization.
Social customs in South Africa relate to the societal relations they have with foreigners in the country. Over the years, South Africans have been termed as xenophobes. Their violent behavior is evidenced by 62 foreigners who were killed in May 2008 because of xenophobic violence (Anti-Xenophobia Action South Africa 1). However, the government is educating their citizens on the importance of accepting foreigners into the country. Despite their unfriendly behavior, South Africans have an interesting culture. When engaging with foreigners, they shake hands while maintaining eye contact with them. As a way of expressing appreciation when one has been invited for dinner, they take flowers, good wine or chocolates. Pointing the middle finger at someone is considered rude. Waiters are not expected to receive tips from customers and customers signal waiters by raising their hand up or making eye contact. During non-official meetings, one is not supposed to discuss business matters. Women and men are treated equally and the young are expected to respect their elders. One is not expected to wear shorts or jeans when paying visits to South African homes.
Clothing and Food
While doing business, men are supposed to wear dark colored suits and women should be dresses in neat business suits (South Africa-Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette 1). To symbolize joy, they put on brightly colored clothes and dark-colored ones during funerals. Red color symbolizes love. They eat three times in a day and they use plates, forks and spoons while eating. The seat of honor at the dining table is often to the right side of the host.
Currently, South Africa is politically stable. This has an impact on businesses within the country. However, they are not allowed to talk about controversial subjects such as politics or racial relations (South Africa-Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette 1).
Religious and Social Beliefs
There is a wide range of religion present in South Africa with most of the citizens being Christians. Events such as initiation and title taking are considered sacred. According to their traditions, shrines and divine beings such as the queen of Lovedu are sacred. Religion only affects communication between Islamic men and women in trade because women are not allowed to engage in business transactions. Minority religious groups are not tolerated. Religious holidays such as Christmas and Eid al-Fitr affect business because they are not included in business days. Catholics do not eat meat during the period of lent while Muslims fast during Ramadan.
Economic and Business Transactions
South African society is homogeneous. The languages spoken are English, Zulu, Tswana, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Tsonga (South Africa-Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette 1). South Africa’s natural resources are from mining and agriculture. They include gold, chromium, vanadium, salt and natural gas and agricultural products such as maize, vegetables and milk. Businesses in South Africa are large and are mostly controlled by the government. They view scheduled appointments as being vital for any organization. People are expected to socialize before they conduct any business.
Ethics, Values and Laws
Gifts and money are not expected
when dealing with business transactions. The functioning nation is expected to
work from 8am to 5pm in order to achieve a 40-hour target of working hours.
Co-operation is more valued than competition in most organizations in the
country. The citizens have a positive attitude towards work and they are driven
by the returns they get such as salary. They prefer factual honesty in their
organizations than politeness.
Anti-Xenophobia Action South Africa. South African Council of Churches Programme, 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
South Africa-Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. Kwintessential, 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.