One word for one world
One word for one world

Doing business in Bangladesh

Bangladesh lies wedged between India and Myanmar. You may have done business with India and Indians before but doing business in Bangladesh is not the same. The majority of the population is Muslim and this is reflected in how people do business as well as in how they live their lives. Bengali is the main language in Bangladesh but Urdu and Hindi are also used.

Tips for doing business in Bangladesh

Flag of Bangladesh
Good preparation and some knowledge of the country’s customs will not only help to avoid any misunderstandings, but will also help you take the right commercial decisions. Below, you will find a few tips from us which will probably be useful.

Formal etiquette during meetings

Business meetings in Bangladesh are quite formal. Men greet each other with a handshake on arrival and when taking their leave. Foreigners, and men in particular, may only greet a woman with a nod of the head, unless the woman offers a hand. It must be emphasised, however, that the initiative must come from the woman, and not from the man. Businessmen are addressed with the term ‘Bahadur’ while women should always be addressed as ‘Begum’. Both titles can be used with the surname. You should wait until the Bengali person you are speaking to indicates that it is all right to do so before you address them by their forename.

Business cards

Business cards are immediately exchanged after a formal introduction. A lot of attention is paid to titles and education, which should be given on the cards. A business card must be accepted with the right hand because the left hand is regarded as unclean in Islamic culture. An accepted business card must be seen to be read carefully and with a lot of interest. Compliments directed at the giver are much appreciated. The card should then be put away carefully, preferably in a business card holder.


A group of people at a meeting.
Meetings are not the place for final decisions. Furthermore, the oldest attendees present will not only set the agenda but the depth and speed of the meeting. Flexibility with regard to the start and end of such a meeting is advisable if you want to do business successfully in Bangladesh. In addition, a certain hierarchy is also applied in any communication about the meeting. Respect for the person with the highest status is essential, particularly when dealing with representatives of the government. If you want to earn the respect of a potential partner, one should act professionally at all times without showing any emotion. Also, you won’t hear a simple ‘no’ from a Bangladeshi. Out of respect for their opposite number, a negative answer will be camouflaged by a lot of words and will be given quite indirectly.

Help with the language

We have professional translators in-house for Bengali, Urdu, and Hindi, whose expertise can help you with your business in Bangladesh. If you need translations for your commercial documents, we will be happy to help you.

Seija Smets
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