Somali Culture

Business Culture

Primary Author
Nina Evason,


  • It is best to arrive on time out of respect for your Somali counterpart. However, be aware that they may not be as punctual.
  • People may prefer not to attend meetings or events at certain days/times due to religious reasons.
  • Meeting agendas may be interrupted by the prayer sessions of practising Muslims. If you know your Somali counterpart prays, it’s a good idea to schedule in a break for the midday and afternoon prayers.
  • 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.
  • It is common for Somalis to use strong negotiation tactics. Therefore, it is recommended to pitch a starting price that is an overestimation of your original figure. This will allow them to drive down the price to something more reasonable for them that is also fair for you.


  • Be aware that Somalia’s economy and business sector has been seriously impacted by years of political turmoil. The constant threat of looting and violence often deters business ventures. Local farmers are also often out-competed by foreign exporters.
  • Some Somali refugees may not have a comprehensive understanding of workplace health and safety systems. As such, they may not report work-related injuries/illnesses or hazards in the workplace if they do not recognise them as such. Furthermore, some may be fearful of the consequences of reporting. 
  • Be aware that workplace are not strongly defined in Somalia and there may not always be a great respect for top-down authority. Managers generally interact with their employees as peers.
  • Address all workplace-related problems discreetly to avoid embarrassing the person in question.
  • If doing business with a Somali in their country, it is generally advisable to explain how your offer could benefit Somalia, their or their personal situation. Somali are less likely to be persuaded by this.
  • On the (2017), Somalia is ranked 180th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 9 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is the most corrupt of any country.

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