Ethiopian Culture The people of Ethiopia are very diverse group of people that speak several different languages. Among them are a form of Semitic, Cushitic, or Amharic–which is the official language. English is the most widely spoken foreign language. Ethiopia has many ethnic groups: Oromo, Amhara, Tigreans and 77 other ethnic groups. Many of these groups have their own language as well. The two major religious groups in the country are Christians and Muslims along with traditional African Religions.
Ethiopians are very respectful people and will rise out of one’s seat or give up one’s bed for an older friend or family member. Being of modest demeanor and courteous are very important social values in Ethiopia. When meeting new people, Ethiopians often are formal and reserved. Forming relationships takes time and is a process in and of itself. Some issues that need to be addressed are the treatment of women. This is due to women not being treated fairly, and even sometimes poorly. Most women don’t know their rights.
The Ethiopian constitution provides for equality , but it is rarely followed because there are no effective mechanisms of enforcement for these protections (Ethiopia Economic Studies, 2000). Also, due to the high number of ethnic groups, many people live in states that are segregated by ethnic group and political affiliation. This may cause issues when people of different cultures work together. Reports show that there is a long history of tension between tribal groups in the region. One such example is between the Nuer and Anuak.
Other issues that will factor in while doing business in Ethiopia are: extreme poverty; poor infrastructure, such as transportation; communications and other utility services; restrictions on foreign exchange and poor banking system. Despite this, Ethiopia’s economic growth has surged, averaging 6-7% from 1993-1998 (Ethiopia Economic Studies, 2000). Overall, Ethiopia is a country ripe with opportunity that can provide a mutual benefit to investors and the local population. Labor is inexpensive nd therefore, our company can afford to hire more people and help our fellow employees out of poverty and still turn a profit. There are many risk involved–considering the ethnic and political tension–but with any potential investment, there are always risks. With knowledge and a great understanding of Ethiopian culture, a good business plan can help smooth out the rough edges of doing business in a foreign country. References: Travel Information. (2009). Ethiopia Country Review, 92-103. Cultural and demographic risks in Ethiopia. (2000). Ethiopia Economic Studies, 84.