In South Africa, we use the term “ubuntu”. It doesn’t just apply to business but every aspect of life. It is a social contract based on the philosophy that if my community thrives, I thrive. Other African countries use different words to describe ubuntu, but the spirit is the same: I am because we are.
Since it describes the uniquely African approach of embracing mutual prosperity, it inevitably also encompasses our way of doing business. We’re in business for each other, and long-term relationships are favoured over making a “quick buck”.
So it’s no wonder that building rapport and strengthening bonds socially is a highlight of doing business in Africa. One must be prepared - and enjoy the occasion - to spend a good amount of time discussing personal matters, like one’s family life, health, opinions, values or beliefs, before getting down to the deal.