Kenya is has over 40 different ethnic groups with different languages and dialects, customs, beliefs and lifestyles.
Meeting and Greeting • Handshakes are the most common greeting in business.
• When being introduced to someone for the first time, the handshake is short, while handshakes among people with a personal relationship are longer.
• It is a sign of respect to lower your eyes when greeting someone of a higher status or someone who is obviously older than you.
• Men should wait for a woman to extend her and first.
• To rush a greeting is extremely rude. Take the time to inquire about the other person’s general well-being, family, and business in general.
• Titles are important. Use the honorific title plus any academic or professional title and the surname.
• Wait to be invited before moving to a first name basis.
• Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
• Present and receive business cards with two hands.
Meeting schedules may be structured or not at all depending upon the ownership of the company. In British or Indian owned companies, agendas will be used and followed.
As relationships are important in Kenya, devote time to small talk in order to get to know your hosts. It is a good idea to allow your Kenyan hosts determine when it is time to begin the business discussion.
Meetings seldom have scheduled ending times since what matters is finishing the meeting in a satisfactory manner to all concerned. In fact, Kenyans are amused at the concept of an ending time, since they believe the meeting only ends when all parties are finished.
Kenyans value tradition. Therefore, it is a good idea to provide a historical framework or context when attempting to introduce a new idea or process. They may ask questions until they feel comfortable and are able to proceed satisfactorily.