Cameroon Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

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

Introduction

Cameroon 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 in general no longer exchange for colored slides). However, one must take into account African vices, such as especially lateness and watch out for the infamous “Nigerian scams” in Cameroon as well.

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

Addressing

In the first step, you need to realize whether your product or service is applicable on the Cameroonian market. The market here is 89% 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. Cameroonians are a very proud people and like to pretend that 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 Cameroon and most of the companies listed in various search engines do not work. 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. Cameroonians 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 Cameroon 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 Nigerian partner in person. Cameroonians are very self-confident and assertive in business dealings. Negotiations can be preceded by a long, informal prelude, during which the client gladly boasts about his achievements. Rich or influential Cameroonians like to flamboyantly display their wealth (influence), including perfect clothes and cars. Be graciously confident and self-assured, especially about your product offering. 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. Cameroonians 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 Cameroonian 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 at public gatherings, conferences, and sometimes before an official lunch or dinner.

A very usual and frequent phenomenon is general indiscipline and lateness. Rich or influential Cameroonians 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 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 Cameroonians 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 Cameroonian 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.

Communication

The official languages ​​are French and English. In practice, French is used almost exclusively, English can only be communicated in the largest cities (with difficulty) and in the south-western part of the country (south-west and north-west provinces). In the northern parts of Cameroon, where most of the population is Muslim, it is necessary to dress and behave more conservatively. It is necessary to refrain from criticizing the political system or the functioning of the authorities. Photographing official buildings, infrastructure constructions, etc. is prohibited, it is better to ask for prior permission to photograph people. Traffic in big cities is thick and it is necessary to always count on a time reserve. 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. Visit Allunitconverters for more information about Cameroon culture and traditions.

Recommendation

The purchasing power of the majority of the population is still low. Despite the still strong French influence and rapidly growing Chinese and other competition, there is room for Czech goods to be used on the local market. The basic condition for success on the market is the price of the product and a long-term active export strategy focused on this country and, more broadly, the entire CEMAC zone. You cannot wait for a really good contract in the Czech Republic. Czech companies have not yet built up a network of representatives in Cameroon who would regularly treat the local market, but the honorary consul of the Czech Republic MUDr. Věra Yabeko or Czech citizens living in Cameroon. Due to the complexity of the local business environment, it is of the utmost importance to negotiate all aspects of the business agreement in detail (preferably with the help of local legal counsel). Before concluding the contract, the partner must be carefully checked by a specialized company (due diligence). One of the basic conditions is the mastery of French in business relations.

Public Holidays

– January 1 (New Year, Independence Day)

– February 11 (Youth Day)

– May 1 (Labor Day)

– 20.-21. May (Republic Day)

– October 1 (Unification of Cameroon)

– December 25 (1st Christmas holiday)

Also celebrated are Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day (May) and Assumption of Mary, and Muslim holidays – Id el Fitr (end of Ramadan) and Id Al Adha (sacrifice of the ram), the birth of Muhammad and the Islamic New Year.

Opening and sales hours: The usual opening hours of shops (supermarkets) are from 9.00 am to 12.30 pm and then from 3.30 pm to 7.30 pm, on Saturdays from 12.00 pm to 1.00 pm. Markets are usually open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The opening hours of public service establishments, central offices and banks are then from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (most banks are also open on Saturdays). Pharmacies are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Cameroon Culture of Business