Angola, a former Portuguese colony and member state of both the African Union and Latin Union, has rich, dynamic culture and a business community that is just as diverse.
Ask about the family: Angolans practice ancestor worship, so it is especially important here, when meeting someone, to inquire about their family before diving into business matters. Building relationships is important. Don’t be surprised if at your first meeting with someone, business is not even discussed. They just want to get to know you.
Eye contact with women: In some rural parts of Angola, women do not make eye contact. However, in more urban areas and among younger generations, Angolan women might look you in the eye. If you are a woman visiting the country, you should try to avoid eye contact during the initial greeting process.
More on eye contact: When speaking to someone who holds a similar position to yours or is your “equal,” making eye contact is a sign of sincerity. Meanwhile, when speaking to someone who is older than you or has more seniority, refraining from eye contact shows respect.
Greetings: Bow to anyone who is obviously older than you are, or who has seniority over you. With anyone else, a handshake is customary.
Gift giving: If you are invited to a business associate’s home in an urban area, fruit, flowers or chocolate are acceptable gifts. It’s also normal to bring small gifts for the children of your associates.
Dress: Even if your business meeting is taking place at a restaurant, café or somebody’s home, dress as you would in an office. Dressing professionally is considered a sign of respect.
When addressing government officials: If there are any government officials present at your meeting, they may be addressed as “Excellency” (male) or “Excelencia” (female), without including their names.
Business cards: You’ll find many Angolans do not carry business cards, however they expect visitors doing business there to present them with business cards.
‘Yes’ doesn’t always mean yes: As in other African cultures, agreeing with someone is a sign of respect. When Angolans aim to please they may avoid saying anything that would come off as negative, even if they do not agree with the terms you are presenting. For this reason, be sure to go over specifics rather than accept vague statements, and write up detailed contracts.
Never interrupt: Interrupting is considered rude, especially interrupting elders. If you want to let someone know you approve of or disagree with what they’re saying, you may make hand or arm gestures while they’re speaking.