Opening up a new comp any inany market to pursue opportunitiesthat were promisingenough to warrant the investment canbe challenging. Now add the furtherchallenge of a company setting up ina foreign country, a step that HotwirePublic Relations Consultancy (HotwirePRC) has taken by setting upin Mozambique and more recently inTanzania and Namibia. The newbie tothe country has to operate within locallaws as well as respect and navigatethe intricacies of local cultures. Youknow, not to put its foot in it and leavethe wrong mark everywhere it goesfrom that point on.As is often the case with internationalcompanies, there is a culture thatthey come with which is often timesconsidered part of their success. However,many companies also neglectto take into consideration how theircorporate culture meshes with localcustoms or traditions.
It can be somethingas simple as a greeting; in Africait is often important to ask about thehealth of the family as well during agreeting. This is very different to thebusiness etiquette of responding to thepleasantry, ‘How do you do?’ with aquestion; ‘How do you do?’ which isthe appropriate response, after whichbusiness can commence.Hotwire’s partner in Tanzania,Roots255, provides a prayer roomfor its Muslim employees during theholy month of Ramadhan. This is asopposed to, say, giving the relevantemployees directions to the nearestMosque. It does not matter that only aminority of the company’s employeesare actually Muslim; it is more importantthat those employees know thatthey are respected and appreciatedby the company for more than theirskills. Other employees also appreciatethis simple gesture and will be thefi rst people to speak wonders abouttheir company, never mind give theirall during working hours.
This canonly do wonders for the bottom line.It is often small nuances that makethe difference to a company gainingthe trust of its employees, suppliers,regulators and other stakeholders. Itgives the company the perception ofunderstanding the market where itoperates and this is an important differentiatorwith positive results for thebusiness often at no added cost. Ofcourse, the products and services thatany company brings to a new markethave got to be competitive and innovativeenough to set them apart fromcompetitors. For instance, HotwirePRC’s Lilacs Media Survey, a tooldesigned to measure the perception ofconsumers about the news media thatthey consume.
With this tool Mediahouses can actually get a very clearidea of what the public actually thinksabout them.In a perfect world there would be aprecondition for multinational companiesto demonstrate that they areworth inviting to the country, not justfor their GDP boosting investment orpositive impact on unemployment.The companies should actively demonstratesensitivity to a country’s cultureas well as an ability and intentionto impart positive infl uences for all itsemployees as well as business partners.Failing to comply would meana company cannot and should notoperate, and should have their CEO’sname submitted to the President’s annualnaughty list.
We, as African businesses,should also export our cultureas a key part of running a successfulbusiness, and doing so, becomingworld leaders especially on our ownturf before taking on the rest of theworld.Share your thoughts with us: #BinnsOn-Brands, Twitter: @kabelobinns, www.hotwireprc.com, FB Hotwire PRC, firstname.lastname@example.org