Benin Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022


  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public holidays


Benin is a civilized country influenced in many areas by French culture and customs. A number of rich and influential businessmen have studied in Europe and Canada and therefore have a high-quality demeanor, rich experience in world trade, use modern technology, and therefore it is good to approach it this way (Africans generally do not trade for colored slides anymore). However, one must take into account African vices, such as especially lateness and watch out for the infamous “Nigerian scams” even in Benin.

  • Programingplease: Yearbook 2010 of nation Benin, including population, politics, and abbreviations.


The first step is to realize whether your product or service is applicable on the Benin market. The market here is 84% ​​purely pro-import and most things are imported from abroad. It is important to remember that the market is very price sensitive. A lot of goods are imported from China, which you cannot compete with, but there are a lot of companies that are rich and prefer quality. The second step is the selection of suitable clients. The Beninese are a very proud people and like to pretend they want everything and in a big way. But the reality is that behind this mask they hide the fact that they are not rich enough to buy your product. The choice of a partner is absolutely key here and can bring you either the expected profit or great difficulties. The third step is to find a partner (client) with whom you can do business. There are no quality paid databases in Benin and most of the companies listed in the various search engines are not working. 99% of business here is done through acquaintances. If the company writes to you “send an official letter or e-mail”, then you already know that they will not talk to you. Personal contact is completely irreplaceable here. The Beninese are a proud nation, and therefore it is not good to acquiesce in everything when dealing with them. Price is important and always comes first. It is not a good idea to increase the price extremely and then negotiate. Because with a final price that is 25% or more lower, the client will feel, and rightly so, that you wanted to cheat him. It is also important to realize that most letters where someone claims to work for ECOWAS or is interested in your product, without further specification, is a scam. Don’t waste your time with these companies. Secure your payment instruments very well. Most often, a confirmed irrevocable letter of credit (L/C) is used with the simplest possible terms to avoid payment delays. Try to have most of your payments cleared and in your account before shipping.

Business meeting

Unfortunately, English is not enough for negotiations. It is very advantageous to speak French or to have an interpreter. Plan your trip outside of Christmas and Ramadan. Keep in mind the country’s ethnic, cultural and religious differences. A very common and frequent phenomenon in Benin is general indiscipline and tardiness. Perceive what is happening around you, be cautious, be careful with your property, take care of your safety and avoid risky situations. Find out who your business partner is with whom you work. You absolutely cannot do without a quality local partner who will open the door to customers. It is better to check the partner through the local embassy to avoid possible fraudulent activity. It is good to meet your Beninese partner in person. Beninese are very self-confident and assertive in business dealings. Negotiations may be preceded by a long informal prelude, during which the client relishes boasting about his achievements. Above all, present yourself well. A suit with a tie is required for meetings at central offices, a shirt with a tie is tolerated for business meetings. Be careful with alcohol, at least it is good to check in advance whether the business partner is Muslim and act accordingly. Don’t be swayed by the initial impression that the client wants everything and in bulk. The Beninese are masters of manipulation and like to create the impression that a deal is already agreed during the first meeting. Prepare for unexpected delays and changes in the entry of requirements from the Benin side. In the case of meetings being prepared at the authorities for Friday, it is only necessary to count on the morning, the Muslim part of the population is at prayers from noon and the authorities tend not to function anymore in the afternoon. Prayer is customary in public gatherings,

General indiscipline and tardiness are a very common and frequent phenomenon in Benin. Rich or influential Beninese like to show off their wealth (influence) flamboyantly (including perfect clothes and cars). They are very confident and assertive when dealing. Part of the meeting can be a very polite and long prelude, Cameroonians suffer from proper titling (if they hold important positions), attention and flattery. They are fans of long speeches and are excellent and funny speakers themselves. It is worth considering that the backbone of the company is still traditional structures (although it may not be visible on the surface) and all major investments and business cases are promoted by influential groups with traditional structures. A potential business partner should have ties to these structures. A suit with a tie is required for meetings at central offices, a shirt with a tie is tolerated during business meetings. In the northern parts of the country, where most of the population is Muslim, it is necessary to dress and behave more conservatively.

The composition of the delegation corresponds to our customs, there are no specifics.

The authorities are functional, but the decision-making processes are lengthy and are often stimulated by corruption or the interests of influential groups. The actions of officials can sometimes be considered arrogant, which is related to a false sense of national pride and a sense of the importance of the position held (as the Beninese themselves say, officials here sometimes feel the need “to exercise their power”). In these cases, it is recommended to react rather gently and not give vent to feelings. Small attention can change the behavior of the official. When driving vehicles, you need to prepare for everything – including, for example, an oncoming vehicle suddenly swerving in the opposite direction, overtaking on unclear sections, disregarding traffic lights and traffic signs. The drivers are very undisciplined and the traffic rules as we know them, for example in Europe, are not respected. In addition, the average Beninese driver is sometimes aggressive and completely uncollegiate. The traffic police often harass foreigners in order to collect “bribes”. We therefore always recommend a local driver. It is very strongly recommended to pay attention to the instructions of the police or soldiers at the so-called check-points and try to behave in a non-confrontational manner. Traffic in the capital is heavy and it is necessary to always count on a time reserve. Outside of Cotonou, the roads are in poor condition, especially during the rainy season.


The official and therefore the main language of communication is French. Other major local languages ​​are: fang, myene, teke, punu, eshira, kikongo, mbere, kota, ndjabi and lumbu. They all belong to the Bantu language family. Visit Allunitconverters for more information about Benin culture and traditions.

In Benin, with the exception of the oil sector, there are not many people who speak English, French is a basic condition for successful negotiations. It is better to refrain from criticizing the political system or the functioning of the authorities. Photography of persons, official buildings, etc. without prior permission should be avoided. You can communicate by email and by phone, Whatsapp and other modern communication technologies are very popular. Personal meetings are highly recommended for business relations.


It is a small market characterized by the low purchasing power of the majority of the population, traditionally oriented towards French goods. The exporter should focus on the entire CEMAC area. The customer focuses primarily on the price, the quality of the goods comes second – the ever-increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods represent a significant competitive obstacle. In addition to the price of the product, the basic condition for success on the market is a long-term active export strategy focused on this country and, more broadly, the entire CEMAC zone. It is also necessary to beware of fraudulent practices (Advance Fee Fraud), where various fees are fraudulently lured from the foreign partner. For this reason, it is always necessary to carry out a thorough verification of the partner (due diligence), preferably through specialized offices or through the Benin Chamber of Industry and Commerce, before establishing business cooperation.

Before establishing business cooperation with an unverified Benin company and sending money to Benin, we recommend requesting the following documents: • tax declaration of the company and the manager authorities (certified attestation of location of the company) • trading tax certificate • a document showing the registration of the company to the Register of Commerce • company status certificate (the status of the company) The submitted certificates should be officially verified by the relevant Beninese authorities. We recommend that you check the sent verified documents through the Abuja Office.

Public Holidays

  • January 1 (New Year)
  • January 10 (Holiday of Traditional Religions)
  • May 1, August 1 (Independence Day)
  • August 15 (Assumption of the Virgin Mary)
  • November 1 (All Souls Day)
  • December 25 (Christmas)
  • Easter Monday
  • Ascension of the Lord
  • Whit Monday
  • Birth of Muhammad, Aid-el-Fitr (end of Ramadan)
  • Aid-el-Kebir. Days off: Saturdays, Sundays

Usual store opening hours: • from 9:00 to 13:00 and then from 16:00 to 19:00 • on Saturdays from 12:00 to 13:00. Central offices and banks: 8:00-12:30 and 15:00-18:30.

Benin Culture of Business