Dabbawalas Of Mumbai

One of the very interesting talk at  TEDxSSN  was of Dr, Pawan Agarwal, CEO of Dabbawalas of Mumbai. Dabbawalas, meaning “person with a box”). Now what Dabbawalas does is they collect freshly cooked food for lunch from the residences of the office workers and deliver it to their respective workplaces and return back the empty boxes by using various modes of transport. The reason behind why these office goers not carrying their lunch is that during peak hours it is very difficult to even travel in suburban trains, forget about the lunch boxes.

120 Years, 0 attrition!

The system started more than 120 years. Most of the Dabbawalas are illiterate. They segregate and carry out the activities based on various colour codes and make sure that there is no error and each one receives their lunch. The error rate is astonishing in the case of Dabbawala, one error in sixty million transactions. The education level of the Dabbawalas makes it more special.

Some interesting facts about Dabbawalas!

  • Dabbawalas are not employees but each one of them is an entrepreneur and are shareholders in the Dabbawalas trust.
  • They earn Rs 4000 per month.
  • One Dabbawala carries around 40 Dabbas, almost 60 kgs and cover a distance of 70 Sq. Km in and around Mumbai
  • They on a daily basis carry out 400,000 transactions.
  • During their 120 years of existence not a single customer complaint has been raised and not a single person left the group, that is Zero attrition in the last 120 years.
  • Dabbawala is the only group to get six sigma without applying for it.

Customer is far bigger king than Prince of Wales!

 ‘Dabbawalas’ were one of the only three guests from India invited for Prince Charles wedding. When he visited India and showed interest in meeting the ‘Dabbawalas’ team, he was asked to plan his trip in accordance with ‘Dabbawalas’ rest time and asked to come to place where they meet for mid day .



The service is almost always uninterrupted, even on the days of severe weather such as monsoons. The local Dabbawalas and population know each other well, and often form bonds of trust. That’s the reason why they are so successful and trustworthy.



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