Malawi Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022


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


Malawian society is still quite traditional in many ways. Central Europeans are often unpleasantly surprised especially by lateness, non-compliance with deadlines and promises in general or difficult dealings with the authorities. A relatively high level of corruption in the country must be reckoned with.


The style of personal communication is somewhat more formal compared to Central European customs. There is more emphasis on politeness. When meeting in person, it is customary to say hello to everyone, or introduce yourself The standard greeting is a handshake. He is usually addressed by his surname rather than his first name – “Mr./Mrs. X”, it is advisable to address them by any academic title or position held (e.g. director, deputy, etc.). A usual part of the greeting is a polite “How are you?” etc. with an appropriate response. It is also considered polite to ask about the health of your partner and his family. In general, small talk is a common part of conversation. It is customary to exchange classic business cards with your partner.

Business meeting

When planning a business meeting, the widespread tardiness must be taken into account. Negotiations are often postponed, even at the last minute. This applies doubly when dealing with representatives of state institutions. When planning the start time and length of the meeting, it is usually necessary to allow for a generous time reserve. In this regard, persons of European origin tend to be significantly more disciplined, with a strong Anglo-Saxon style of behavior. The surviving British influence is still felt in customs and manners in general.

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

Meetings often take place over lunch or dinner in a restaurant, but it is just as well possible to meet in the office. Inviting a business partner to your home is possible until establishing a more intimate personal relationship unusual. Giving gifts is not necessarily expected, but it is usually pleasing and can help establish a closer relationship. Alcohol is not usually offered; Malawi is a relatively conservative Christian country, with members of some churches abstaining from alcohol consumption, and about 13% of the population are Muslims. In the countryside, the traditional division of social roles persists, i.e. a significantly higher representation of men in business and official positions. In the cities, however, these traditional differences are already blurring. In general, respect is shown to older people.

The relatively formal and conservative style is also applied in dressing. Gentlemen should come to the first meeting in a suit and tie (light materials are recommended due to the climate), appropriate formal attire is also recommended for women. However, the atmosphere during negotiations is often less formal than in many European countries. Closer physical contact (hugging, etc.) is not usual, the perceived extent of the personal zone is nevertheless smaller than what we are used to in the Czech Republic.


The official language of the country is English, with which you can communicate practically anywhere in the usual business environment. Establishing a deeper business relationship is usually a longer-term affair, with (usually repeated) face-to-face interaction almost necessary. It is possible to use all common means of communication for negotiations, but quite often it is possible to encounter the fact that the partner does not respond to emails. Telephone communication is usually more effective. A very popular one (and usually the most reliable in terms of a partner’s response) is WhatsApp. Visit Allunitconverters for more information about Malawi culture and traditions.


It should be taken into account that corruption is quite widespread in the country. Malawi ranked tied for 110th out of 183 countries in the 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

When dealing with the authorities, one must expect lengthy, confusing and often chaotic processes and absences, or by not following standardized procedures. In general, when dealing with local partners, it is better to refrain from criticizing the political system or the functioning of state institutions.

Politeness and trying not to disappoint the partner often leads to the fact that local partners do not say “no” outright, when it comes to their ability or possibility to get something, arrange it, etc. Promises should be taken with a considerable amount of caution and rather with lower expectations. Agreed time frames are very often not respected at all.

Public Holidays

  • January 1 – New Year
  • January 15 – John Chilembwe Day
  • March 3 – Martyrs’ Day
  • Good Friday and Easter Monday (moving)
  • May 1 – Labor Day
  • May 14 – President-Founder Kamuzu Banda’s birthday
  • July 6 – Independence Day (Major National Holiday)
  • October 14 – Mother’s Day
  • December 25-26 – Christmas

Moving Muslim holidays (e.g. Eid al Fitr) are also celebrated. For most holidays, if they fall on a weekend, the following Monday is a non-working day.

Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic

The government of Malawi encourages foreign firms to prioritize training and employment of local workers over hiring foreign workers. Therefore, obtaining a work permit is often difficult and is considered one of the major obstacles for foreign investors.

According to the law, an investor can employ foreigners if there are not enough suitable and qualified local workers. There are two types of work permit for foreigners: Temporary Employment Permit for a maximum of 6 months with the possibility of extension, and Employment Permit for a maximum of 2 years with the possibility of extension. The application is submitted by the employer on behalf of the employee, in person or online on the website of the immigration office, where the detailed conditions for each type of permit are listed. The application fee is USD 100, and if approved, the permit is issued at USD 2,000. A work permit is also required for workers of non-governmental organizations, church charities, etc.

Fairs and events

The only major fair in the country is the Malawi International Trade Fair, a general fair organized by the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and held annually in Blantyre between May and August.

Malawi Culture of Business