Different Culture means different Ways – Troubles with going global

About four months ago UnderMyPants released a blog about our tips for going global. We had just successfully gone into the New Zealand market and we were feeling great about ourselves. With great momentum from New Zealand and our documented steps to go overseas, we thought we had the formula to expand globally. As 2018 started, so did our desire to enter the South African market. We knew the process, we had researched the market and were ready to go.

The only problem? South Africa has a vastly different culture. It’s one that we don’t have experience in dealing with. The cultural differences have brought on vast challenges and huge delays. As it stands we are nearing the end of March and we are still on step one…. It’s been a frustrating journey to say the least.

Why has it been so hard? How can a cultural difference be such a challenge you say? We’ll here are a few holds up we’ve experienced.

Infrastructure Issues  

One of the biggest challenges has been dealing with the South African Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). There infrastructure services are not up to date with current practices and as such it’s been a massive hurdle to even register our business in South Africa.

Rather than just paying for any service via credit card (such as company registration) you need to deposit funds into your account first. Sounds easy, we’ll it isn’t. When your funds haven’t been allocated you start to look for answers. Sadly, CIPC’s customer service infrastructure is just as bad. There poorly planned ticketing system allows for tickets to be unanswered for over 10 days (a further two-week delay) and then calling South Africa has its own flaws. It’s difficult to hear, even in today’s world there is still poor connection. There is also a language barrier too. It’s overall just a difficult experience.

The banks are never nice

We cannot park the blame on ourselves and CIPC. Everyone’s most loved villain makes an appearance, the banks. After an eight week ordeal, we finally had our funds allocated to our account. But only half of the money was deposited. Neither the ANZ bank or ABSA we’re willing to offer a reason as to where the money went. Rather, they were blaming each other. My only option, pay $25 for a two week investigation. More money, to find out who stole my money? Thanks banks….

After deciding against the investigation we deposited more money in. Only this time, ABSA had started a wild rumor that our confirmed deposited money is now being refunded, meaning CIPC could not allocate the funds to us. Thanks again Banks. Tell us one story and the other party another, love it!

It’s been an ordeal. My biggest taking from this is that you cannot prep yourself for a new market. It’s too hard to know the internal workings of a country unless you are there. We’d never expected that customer service could vary so much between country to country. Sadly, in South Africa communication is poor and it’s hard to know what’s happening. We’ll keep pushing through these challenges in hope it will turn around soon.

March 20, 2018

Posted In: business

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