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The Bombay Dabawalla | by JimReeves
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The Bombay Dabawalla

A charitable Trust started in 1890, The NMTBSA or commonly known as The Bombay Dabawalla has achieved 6 Sigma.

They collect the Lunch Tiffin from home and deliver at the work place in a record time.

Approximately 4,00,000 transactions are done per day with a work force of approximately 5000 employees..

The Error rate is 1 in 16 million transactions. (6 Sigma performance requires 99.999999 % efficiency)

The charge ? Rs 300/- per month ($6 per month) This rate is standard for any distance or weight.

Discipline: No Alcohol during business hours, wear a white cap and the Identity card.

There are no “strike” records as each one is a Share Holder.

The average education is 8th grade schooling. The average earning is Rs 5000 to 6000 per month. During the festival time of Diwali they get one month’s additional salary (Bonus) from each customer.

The annual turnover is Rs 36 crore.

The pick up and drop works on the simple principle of codings done on the Dabba.

For example, VLP : Vile Parle (suburb in Mumbai)

9EX12 : Code for Dabbawalas at Destination

EX : Express Towers (building name)

12 : Floor no.

E : Code for Dabbawala at residential station

3: Code for destination Station eg. Churchgate Station (Nariman Point)


Prince Charles was so impressed by them that they were invited for his marriage in April 2005

They were also invited for the Terra Madre World meeting of food communities in October , 2004.

Figured in the GUINESS BOOK of World Records and Ripley's “ believe it or not”.

Clicked these pics on 16 July noon at Church Gate station where the sorting and dispatch takes place. Mode of transport: any thing from head load of crate, to hand cart to bicycle.

Motto : War against Time (9:00 am to 12:30 pm)

Their latest marketing strategy is Marketing pamphlets in the “Dabba”

By the way NMTBSA stands for Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier’s Association.


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Taken on July 16, 2007