The case of Mumbai Dabbawalas


If you visit Mumbai, you are bound to notice the dabbawalas. Translated as “one who carries the box”, dabbawala is a person in India who is part of a delivery system that collects hot food in lunch boxes from the residences of workers in the late morning, delivers the lunches to the workplace, predominantly using bicycles and the railway trains, and returns the empty boxes to the worker's residence that afternoon.

Serving over 200,000 people every day, their operations are so efficient that world personalities like Prince Charles and Richard Branson have visited them and are even said to be six sigma compliant.

The dabbawalas have high rates of accuracy and their error rates are shockingly one in a million only. And what is even more impressive, that all the dabbawalas are fairly illiterate and have no use of any technology. The only motorized transport used is the Mumbai local trains. Other than that they make use of hand-drawn carts and bicycles. 

Arvind Talekar, from the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust, joins our platform at BOLDtalks Innovation 2015 to explain the history and also the secret of the sophistication of this 125 year old logistics that today employees over 5,000 people and carrying over 400,000 transactions a day with an error rate of 1 in 16 million transactions.

Stay tuned as we announce the full speakers' agenda on 15th October.