Ethiopian Culture

Business Culture


  • People might meet at a coffee shop initially to introduce themselves to another, make acquaintance and assess whether a business relationship is worth pursuing. If a partnership appears to be in both parties’ interest, a meeting at an office will then be organised.
  • Make sure to spend a fair amount of time at the start of a meeting simply socialising and getting to know everyone. Personal relationships are very important to success in business.
  • Stand to greet everyone and address them by their formal title.
  • Coffee may be served at the beginning of a meeting.
  • Present your business card with the right hand or both hands together, not the left hand alone. Do not fold someone’s business card if they give it to you.
  • There may not be a set time when the meeting is expected to end. Therefore, it is best not to make plans immediately afterwards in case the engagement goes for longer than you expected.
  • Meetings generally end once everyone feels that they have exhausted everything they had to say, or when the most senior or eldest person decides there is nothing left to discuss.



  • Be wary of hasty verbal contracts. Agreements should normally be carefully thought through and officiated in writing.
  • Foreign connections are generally viewed positively within Ethiopia, as they are often associated with aid and continued investment.
  • Ethiopians may struggle to decline requests and may avoid giving a flat refusal to those that they consider friends. If you receive a non-committal answer, it is best to interpret it as a negative response (see Communication).
  • Ethiopians often resist giving open criticism or negative opinions on something. For example, instead of directly notifying their supervisor that they are having a problem with a colleague, they may tell other people so it becomes known indirectly. Generally, people feel more comfortable expressing opinions about technical matters rather than personal sentiments.
  • Consider that Ethiopians may feel obliged to perform favours for friends due to their close relationship.
  • Due to the strong capacity of the government and cultural traditions, corruption is somewhat less of a problem for Ethiopia than many of its African neighbouring countries.
  • Small-scale businesses often comprise a number of friends and family members.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (2017), Ethiopia is ranked 107th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 35 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is somewhat corrupt.
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  • Population
    [July 2017 est.]
  • Language
    Oromo (33.8%)
    Amharic (29.3%)
    Somali (6.2%)
    Tigrinya (5.9%)
    Sidamo (4.0%)
    Wolaytta (2.2%)
    Gurage (2.0%)
    Afar (1.7%)
    Hadiyya (1.7%)
    Other (13.2) - including over 70 other individual languages.
    [Census, 2007]
  • Religion
    Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity (43.5%)
    Islam (33.9%)
    Protestant Christianity (18.5%)
    Traditional/Animist Religions (2.7%)
    Catholic Christianity (0.7%)
    Other (0.6%)
    [Census, 2007]
  • Ethnicity
    Oromo (34.4%)
    Amhara (26.9%)
    Somali (6.2%)
    Tigrinya (6.1%)
    Sidama (4.0%)
    Gurage (2.5%)
    Welaita (2.3%)
    Hadiya (1.7%)
    Afar (1.7%)
    Other (14.1%) - including at least 70 other ethnic groups.
    [Census, 2007]
  • Cultural Dimensions
  • Australians with Ethiopian Ancestry
    13,715 [2016 census]
Ethiopians in Australia
  • Population
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Ethiopia.
  • Average Age
    [Census 2016]
  • Gender
    Male (47.7%)
    Female (52.3%)
    [Census 2016]
  • Religion
    Oriental Orthodox Christianity (25.6%)
    Islam (24.4%)
    Christianity [not defined] (12.7%)
    Eastern Orthodox Christianity (9.8%)
    Other Religion (19.4%)
    No Religion (4.0%)
    [Census 2016]
  • Ancestry
    Ethiopian (62.9%)
    Oromo (8.4%)
    African [so described] (7.1%)
    Eritrean (3.3%)
    Other Ancestry (18.3%)
    [Census 2016]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Amharic (43.0%)
    Oromo (16.8%)
    Tigrinya (11.3%)
    English (11.2%)
    Other Languages (16.4%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 82.9% speak English fluently.
    [Census 2016]
  • Diaspora
    Victoria (54.0%)
    Western Australia (13.7%)
    Queensland (10.7%)
    New South Wales (10.7%)
    Other (10.9%)
    [Census 2016]
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2007 (48.9%)
    2007 - 2011 (24.0%)
    2011 - 2016 (23.4%)
    [Census 2016]
Country Flag Country Ethiopia