Friday, January 18, 2019


Mumbai Dabbawala planning to set up start-up in food processing sector
Saturday, 12 May, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai
Mumbai Dabbawala, India’s first food delivery start-up delivering lunch tiffins across Mumbai and its suburbs, is planning to set up a start-up business in the food processing sector.

Commenting on the same, Ritesh Andre, brand manager, logistics, Mumbai Dabbawala, said the start-up will supply organic produce, possibly organic vegetables.

Ullas Shantaram Muke, president, Mumbai Dabbawala, informed, “The basic idea of this start-up is to deliver organic vegetables and other organic produce through our Six Sigma-certified supply chain. We are in the process of developing this model for our start-up.”

“We have tied up with Malhar Nature Mart, a one-stop online store selling organic and naturally-grown healthy products directly from farms in and around Maharashtra committed to growing chemical- or pesticide-free produce. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been initiated to deliver farm-fresh naturally-grown food directly from the farm to the kitchen,” he added.

Muke said, “When the dabbawalas are free in the afternoon, they will work on this as their side business. One dabbawala can carry about 25-30kg of vegetables with them. So when they are returning the tiffin, they can deliver the vegetables to their customers. As of now, there are only three to four deliveries taking place in such areas as Thane, Parel, Dadar and Mahim. But soon we expect to deliver more.”

“Post-Diwali this year, we are looking to start our service in Pune and Bengaluru. It will be challenging to cater to these areas, as there is no train service like we have in Mumbai. In Mumbai, all the dabbas reach the clients before 1pm everyday. So our target for these cities will be the same,” he added.

Mumbai Dabbawalas has a Fortune 500 clientele, which includes companies like Deloitte, KPMG, Philips, Siemens, Uber, Ola, Mahindra and Aditya Birla Group, amongst others.

Recently, they partnered with Paytm, the digital bank which provides zero charges on digital transactions for effective transfer of money. There are currently over 5,000 dabbawalas working in Mumbai, delivering over two lakh lunch boxes each day. For one dabba, they get about Rs 1,200. As a part of this partnership, it is now possible for them to collect instant payment from the clients.

The dabbawalas launched the Digital Dabbawala website, which caters to customers in Mumbai and Thane.

They can register themselves online to enjoy the dabbawalas’ service at their doorsteps. This will also make payments easier through the online channel and thereby boost the government drive to transform India into a cashless economy.

Muke said, “ This service was started about a year-and-a-half ago. Only four to five dabbawalas who were able to use this technology then. Now over 30 dabbawalas are making use of the system and are adopting the technology.”

“Various information technology (IT) companies approached us with a number of business models, but it was difficult to implement them with the same efficiency, so we continued with our existing model,” Andre said.

Forbes magazine gave the dabbawalas a Six Sigma performance rating or 99.99999 per cent precision, which means they make one error in 16 million deliveries! In the last 125 years, there has not been a single instance of a lunchbox that has not been delivered to its destination. With no technology or paperwork, still there is no single error.

Dressed in a white outfit and traditional Gandhi cap, initially it was simple colour coding. But now since Mumbai is a widely-spread metro with three local train routes, the coding has also evolved into alpha-numeric characters.

Famous across the globe for their reliability, Mumbai dabbawalas operate pan-Mumbai, i e from Virar to Churchgate and from Ambernath to Dadar, and firmly believe in the philosophy of Anna daan is maha daan (Donating food is the best charity).
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