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Cabo Verde

Cultural Considerations in Business

Discover how cultural norms impact business and employment in Cabo Verde

Communication styles in the workplace

In the professional landscape of Cabo Verde, understanding communication styles is crucial. Here are some key aspects to consider:


Cabo Verdean culture leans towards indirect communication. People often avoid saying "no" directly, preferring to soften their message with phrases like "talvez" (maybe) or "não sei" (I don't know). This can be misconstrued as indecisiveness by cultures that prize directness. Building trust and rapport is essential before getting down to business. This can involve social conversations and getting to know colleagues on a personal level before diving into work-related topics.


The work environment is generally formal, with a strong emphasis on respect for authority figures. Employees address superiors with titles like "Senhor/Senhora" (Mr./Ms.) followed by their last name. However, a shift towards a more casual work environment is emerging, especially in younger generations and startups.

Non-Verbal Cues

Non-verbal cues play a significant role in Cabo Verdean communication. Gestures, facial expressions, and posture can convey additional meaning beyond spoken words. For instance, maintaining eye contact shows respect and attentiveness, while avoiding eye contact can be seen as submissive or disrespectful. Touch is a common form of non-verbal communication, especially among colleagues and friends. A handshake is a standard greeting, and light touches on the arm or shoulder can indicate warmth and camaraderie.

Cultural Considerations

Cabo Verdean society is hierarchical, and this is reflected in workplace communication. Employees are expected to defer to those in positions of authority. Decision-making processes can be slower than in some cultures, with an emphasis on consultation and building consensus. Be patient and allow extra time for discussions. Understanding these communication styles and cultural nuances can foster more effective and respectful interactions with colleagues in Cabo Verde.

Negotiation practices

Negotiating in Cabo Verde requires an understanding of their cultural approach to business dealings. Here's a breakdown of key aspects to consider:

Negotiation Approaches

Cabo Verdean negotiations prioritize building relationships and trust before diving into specifics. This means investing time in getting to know the other party and understanding their needs. Cabo Verdean businesses tend to take a long-term perspective in negotiations, focusing on establishing a sustainable partnership rather than securing a one-time win.

Negotiation Strategies

Negotiators in Cabo Verde may use indirect language and subtle cues to convey their desired outcome. Reading non-verbal cues and understanding underlying meanings becomes crucial. Be prepared to be flexible and adapt your approach based on the situation. Cabo Verdean counterparts may be willing to negotiate on various aspects of a deal, so don't be afraid to make counteroffers and explore creative solutions.

Cultural Norms Influencing Negotiations

Negotiations in Cabo Verde can be lengthy, with a focus on consensus building. Be patient and avoid pressuring the other party for a quick decision. Maintaining respect throughout the negotiation process is essential. This involves using polite language, acknowledging the other party's viewpoint, and avoiding aggressive tactics. Publicly losing face is a significant concern in Cabo Verdean culture. Structure negotiations to allow both parties to reach an agreement that is seen as mutually beneficial.

Additional Tips

First impressions matter, so dress professionally for negotiation meetings. Pay attention to non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions. Maintain eye contact and avoid fidgeting to project confidence and respect. Humor can be used to build rapport and ease tension during negotiations, but use it cautiously and be mindful of cultural sensitivities.

Understanding hierarchical structures

Hierarchical structures are a significant aspect of businesses in Cabo Verde. These structures play a crucial role in understanding the internal dynamics, decision-making processes, and leadership styles within these businesses.

Prevalence of Hierarchy

Cabo Verdean society is traditionally hierarchical, with a deep-rooted respect for authority. This cultural influence is reflected in businesses where clear chains of command and well-defined roles are prevalent. Decisions are often made by those at the top of the hierarchy. Employees are expected to follow instructions and defer to superiors. This aligns with the concept of power distance in Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory, where Cabo Verde scores high, indicating a greater acceptance of unequal power distribution.

Impact on Business Practices

Teamwork is valued in Cabo Verdean businesses, but individual contributions are often secondary to fulfilling the directives of superiors. This can limit creative brainstorming and bottom-up innovation. Leadership styles tend to be more authoritative, with leaders providing clear direction and expecting compliance. However, a shift towards more participative styles is emerging, especially in younger companies influenced by global trends.

Considerations for Working Within the Hierarchy

When communicating with superiors, it's important to use respectful language and acknowledge their position. If you have suggestions for improvement, frame them as a way to support the leader's decisions rather than challenging their authority. Building positive relationships with superiors can offer opportunities to indirectly influence decisions and provide your ideas for consideration.

Holidays and observances affecting business operations

Cabo Verde has a rich culture with numerous holidays and observances that can affect business operations.

National Statutory Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1st): This is a nationwide public holiday marked by celebrations and festivities. Businesses are typically closed.
  • Democracy Day (January 13th): This day commemorates the first democratic elections in 1991. It's a public holiday with most businesses closed.
  • Heroes' Day (January 20th): This day honors the anniversary of Amílcar Cabral, a national hero. It's a public holiday with closures similar to Democracy Day.
  • May Day (May 1st): This is International Workers' Day, celebrated with demonstrations and public events. Many businesses operate with reduced hours or close entirely.
  • Youth Day (June 1st): This is International Children's Day, a day to celebrate children and young people. Schools and some businesses may close.
  • Independence Day (July 5th): This is a major national holiday marking independence from Portugal in 1975. It's a public holiday with widespread celebrations and business closures.
  • Assumption of Mary (August 15th): This is a religious holiday observed by many Cabo Verdeans. Some businesses may have reduced hours or close entirely.
  • All Saints' Day (November 1st): This is a day to remember deceased loved ones. Businesses typically operate as usual.
  • National Day of Culture (November 19th): This day celebrates Cabo Verdean culture and heritage. Schools and cultural institutions may have special events, but businesses generally remain open.
  • Christmas Day (December 25th): This is a major holiday with family gatherings and celebrations. Many businesses close or have reduced hours.

Regional Observances

Some islands have additional holidays specific to their local patron saint or cultural traditions. It's important to research specific island celebrations to avoid scheduling business meetings or events during these times.

Impact on Work Schedules

Public holidays are typically observed with business closures or reduced hours. During major holidays like Independence Day and Christmas, expect a more significant slowdown in business activity. It's advisable to schedule important meetings well in advance of these holidays and confirm operating hours before planning business trips.

Cabo Verdeans place a high value on family and community. During holidays and observances, business interactions may take a backseat as people prioritize spending time with loved ones.

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