We all know about the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. The crowded local trains are something the people that haven’t visited Mumbai also know about. Amongst this chaos, a set of superheroes travel through Mumbai and make the lives of every Mumbaikars easier. We are talking about the Mumbai Dabbawalas.
This brief Mumbai Dabbawala case study will highlight the brilliant management and logistics systems they use.
However, we would like to start by busting a myth: Mumbai Dabbawalas are not caterers. So, what are they exactly?
The ‘Dabba’ or the lunchbox is yours, and even the food inside it is yours. All the Mumbai Dabbawalas do is deliver your lunchbox from your home to your workplace before lunchtime, and when lunch is over, they take the empty Dabba back to your home.
So, in one line, Mumbai Dabbawalas make two daily deliveries for each person.
It is unimaginable to expect someone to carry their lunchbox day to day in Mumbai as the day starts pretty early and you wouldn’t favor eating a meal at 1 PM that was made at 6 AM.
We have all seen the pictures of the local trains in Mumbai. You would concur that it is a tedious task to travel in them empty handed, let alone with a lunchbox in your hands. Thus, the Mumbai Dabbawalas help your lunchbox reach you on time so you can savor a hot, home-prepared lunch, at your workplace.
Mumbai dabbawalas have been spreading the love for over 100 years through the home-cooked meals that are prepared with love and affection every day across Mumbai.
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This business started around 1890, with one dabbawala and one customer. Now there are thousands of dabbawalas, who deliver around 2 lakh dabbas every day, and what is remarkable is that they hardly make a mistake. Each dabbawala carries about 60 kg of dabbas daily and delivers them to the right person daily. This is the reason why we called them superheroes in the beginning.
The most surprising part is that all these superheroes are, on an average, eight-grade pass, and approximately 50% are illiterate. They can’t read nor write, and still, they can deliver the right lunchbox to the right place.
All these dabbawalas are divided into groups, and in every group, the eldest member is the group leader. He controls the entire group’s activities. The whole group, even the group leader, get the same remuneration.
This close-knit group of 5,000 highly enthusiastic people with strong values and ethics never go wrong. This one fact is something that has been praised all over the world. Their workings have been studied in almost every major management college or institution in India.
The Mumbai Dabbawala case study is fascinating as every Mumbai Dabbawala believes that he is the soldier of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. They are mentally and physically strong individuals, willing to travel 100 km in a day with a load full of dabbas so that every Mumbaikar can enjoy their lunch on time.