In Central America ‘Machismo’ and the public ‘face’ of a man cent america
are of overriding importance in this part of the world. Honour and pride, trust and relationships, are the driving factors in business. Status is the motivator. Time is fluid. Women are not regarded as equals and men feel it is their right to make decisions for them.

So far in this section you’ll find the  Top Ten Tips for doing business, along with opening times, holiday dates and festivities for the following countries: Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.


  1. Establish long-term relationships based on mutual trust and reliability.
  2. Extensive negotiations, and many trips, may be necessary to complete your deal.  The same person must be involved each time.
  3. Ask open questions which require detailed answers, as “Yes/No” answers will be ambiguous.  They want to please you and will tell you what they think you want to hear.
  4. Make an emotional appeal, emphasising trust, mutual compatibility, the benefits to a person’s pride, etc. This will be more effective emphasising profit or gain. Logic and reason have no relevance here.
  5. Very status driven, so make sure you have people of equal status conducting business. It’s an insult to send a ‘junior’ even though they may be the best person for the job.
  6. Compromise is seen as a weakness and possible loss of Face.
  7. Hondurans place importance on their emotional reactions to projects and the people involved in them.
  8. The decision-making process is strongly affected by the need to maintain group harmony. The collective group and a person’s role within the social system is very important – not initiative or expertise.
  9. Don’t expect speedy progress.
  10. Don’t reply with a direct “No”. The communication is indirect, always polite, and ensuring no loss of Face. Say, “May be” or “We’ll see”.

Public Holidays:

January 1         New Year’s Day  

March/April    Holy Thursday date changes every year

March/April    Good Friday /Easter Sunday

April 14           Panamerican Day

May 1              Labour Day

September 15 Independence Day

October 3        Morazon Day

October 12      Columbus Day

October 21      Army Day

December 25   Christmas Day  

Weekend Saturday, Sunday

Business Hours 7.30-4.30


  1. Quiet and respectful behaviour is expected; ask questions quietly, be patient and never raise your voice, or insult anyone. Remember Face and harmony are valued here.
  2. Translate your brochures and promotional literature into Spanish.
  3. Take time to establish a personal relationship with your business counterpart; this is a must.
  4. Mutual contacts can help business flow, especially during initial introductions. They add credibility to your dealings.
  5. The ‘talking stone’ is a part of Guatemalan culture. You need to pick this up before you can say something in a meeting.
  6. The corruption index is quiet high so be prepared to ‘oil the wheels’ and pay for favours.
  7. Although a ‘macho’ society, business women will be treated with respect as long as you demonstrate decorous behaviour. Men usually represent women in all matters here.
  8. Don’t be confrontational or show anger or displeasure, however frustrated you may become
  9. Don’t discuss business around family events, leave it for the office or over a meal.
  10. Don’t make comparisons between Guatemala and other parts of Central America. Get to know it for itself; this demonstrates respect and sensitivity

Public Holidays:

 January 1         New Year’s Day  

March/April    Easter Sunday date changes every year

May 1 Labour Day

June 30            Army Day

August 15        Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (in Guatemala City only)

September 15 Independence Day

October 20      Revolution Day

November 1    All Saints’ Day

December 24   Christmas Eve (afternoon only)

December 25   Christmas Day  

December 31   New Year’s Eve (afternoon only)

Weekend Saturday, Sunday

Business Hours 8.00-noon and then 2.00-6.00


Easter Week is the fiesta of Guatemala City.

All Saints’ Day is a fiesta in Todos Santos.


  1. Everything happens at a much slower pace than ‘western’ societies
  2. Your ‘enchufados’ (contacts) are your lifeblood in everything you do
  3. Spend a lot  of time making  your contacts, investing in personal relationships and networking; who you know is more important than what you know
  4. Rules and regulations depend on circumstances
  5. Nicaraguans are very suspicious of outsiders’ information, logic and perspectives
  6. Decision-making is done from a subjective and personal perspective
  7. Don’t rely on facts and logic; they don’t have a lot of relevance
  8. Don’t expect reason to make sense; make emotional appeals, call on trust,  build mutual compatibility, inflame pride
  9. Don’t be offended by a lack of respect for women; this is a very macho society and business women are rare. Act professionally and respect will soon be yours.
  10. Don’t try to appeal to an individual’s well-being; the common good is the name of the game

Public Holidays:

January 1         New Year’s Day  

March/April    Holy Thursday / Good Friday / Sunday date changes every year

May 1 Labour Day

May 30            Mothers’ Day

July 19             National Liberation Day

August 1          Fiesta Day

September 14 San Jacinto Fight Day

September 15 Independence Day

November 1    All Souls’ Day

December 8     Immaculate Conception

December 25   Christmas Day  

Weekend – Saturday afternoon, Sunday

Business Hours 8.00-6.00, (Saturdays 8.00-noon)


Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 10:24 pm and is filed under Central America, General, tips on doing business around the world . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “ Central America: Top Ten Tips for doing business ”

  1. Harmeson says:

    I’m glad I saw this, big thanks!