National

Mumbai's dabbawala: An entrepreneur in his own right

| Updated on March 12, 2018

Dabbawalas of Mumbai deliver home-cooked food to office-goers using various modes of transport, predominantly bicycles, handcarts and local trains and return the empty boxes to the customer’s residence. Also, prominent meal suppliers in Mumbai use their services for ferrying cooked meals from central kitchens to the customers and back.

The 5,000 dabbawalas of Mumbai are organised into a flat structure of 200 self-managed teams of 25 individuals each, who vary in age from 20 to 65, with the most experienced ones acting as supervisors in addition to doing their own deliveries. Each dabbawala is an entrepreneur in his own right, responsible for negotiating prices with his own customers.

Photos by Paul Noronha

Published on December 10, 2014

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