Somali Culture

Business Culture

Meetings

  • 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.

 

Considerations

  • 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 hierarchies 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 clan or their personal situation. Somali expats are less likely to be persuaded by this.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (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.
Cultural Competence Program
Cultural Competence Program Logo

Join over 300 organisations already creating a better workplace

Find out more
Download this Cultural Profile

Too busy to read it right now?

You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time.

Somalia
  • Population
    11,031,386
    [July 2017 est.]
    Note: All statistics are estimates as there has been no census since 1975, and figures complicated by the large number of nomads as well as displaced peoples.
  • Language
    Somali [official]
    Arabic [official]
    Italian
    English
  • Religion
    Sunni Islam [official]
  • Ethnicity
    Somali (85%)
    Bantu and other non-Somali (15%)
  • Australians with Somali Ancestry
    16,169 [2016 census]
Somalis in Australia
  • Population
    7,668
    [Census 2016]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Somalia. However, many Somalis were also born in surrounding countries during periods of displacement. Therefore, the number of Somalis in Australia is likely to be much higher.
  • Median Age
    34
    [Census 2016]
  • Gender
    Male (47.1%)
    Female (52.9)
    [Census 2016]
  • Religion
    Islam (93.4%)
    No Religion (1.5%)
    Other (0.6%)
    Not Stated (4.3%)
    [Census 2016]
  • Ancestry
    Somali (85.8%)
    African [non-descript] (6.0%)
    English (2.1%)
    Australian (1.2%)
    Other Ancestry (4.8%)
    [Census 2016]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Somali (88.7%)
    English (4.6%)
    Arabic (2.8%)
    Swahili (0.3%)
    Other Languages (1.7%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 78.2% speak English fluently.
    [Census 2016]
  • Diaspora
    Victoria (50.9%)
    Western Australia (17.4%)
    Queensland (16.6%)
    New South Wales (10.7%)
    Other (4.4%)
    [Census 2016]
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 1995 (16.1%)
    1996 - 2005 (35.3%)
    2006 - 2015 (42.1%)
    [Census 2016]
Country https://dtbhzdanf36fd.cloudfront.net/countries/54/so.svg Flag Country Somalia