Doing business in Ethiopia

If you’ve recently been approached by an Ethiopian company or if you want to do business in Ethiopia, we offer a few tips for you in this article to help you on your way.


Ethiopian flag

Ethiopia is a multi-cultural country which contains several religions. Religion is very important and is inextricably connected with everything that happens in the country. The majority of the population are members of the Christian, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the rest are either Muslim or practice an ancient form of Judaism. Most of the people who are involved in business, however, are Muslim, and it is important to take that into account during a business trip. This means making sure that you are properly dressed, for instance, and that women are well covered during business meetings, even if it is quite hot. Men should be formally dressed as well. Not just Muslims, but Ethiopian Christians also expect people to be formally and properly dressed.


Everything revolves around the family in Ethiopian society. The family is more important than anything else and it can be the case that your appointment is cancelled because a member of your potential business partner’s family needs his help. It is therefore a good idea to ask after their family and to ask to have your greetings passed on to them. You can also take various gifts suitable for different ages so that your potential client can give them to his family. Make sure that these presents are not too expensive though - that won’t be appreciated. If you are invited to meet your potential business partner’s family, it is a great honour and you cannot refuse it.

The meeting

When meeting someone, you shake their hand and make eye contact at the same time like we do in our country. Don’t be impatient about it but ask a great deal about their family, health, and work. If you are introduced to someone who is older or of a higher position or status, it is customary to make a small bow.

The language

We can translate your business documents for you. Send us an email or get in touch with one of our project managers. They will be happy to answer any questions about doing business in Ethiopia. For a no-obligation quotation, you can always send your document to us by email.


Nicolette van Neer
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