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In 1890 Bombay, Mahadeo Havaji Bachche started a lunch delivery service with about a hundred men called as ‘Dabbawala’, which became India’s first food delivery startup successfully running up till nowdays. Now, after 125-years of successfully delivering lunch tiffins across Mumbai and its suburbs, the Mumbai dabbawalas are setting up a start-up business, in the food processing sector, reported Times of India.

Ritesh Andre, who was representing the president of the Mumbai dabbawalas, revealed the startup plans of Dabbawalas and said the startup will supply organic produce, possibly organic vegetables.

“We are in the process of developing a business model for our startup. Most dabbawalas come from farming families that grow organic grain and vegetables. The idea of the business is to deliver organic produce through their Six Sigma-certified supply chain. We will use technology for the same purpose,” he said.

Andre spoke about how dabbawalas are embracing technology. “Various IT companies approach us with a number of business models, but it is difficult to implement them with the same efficiency and we continued with our existing model. However, after the implementation of goods and services tax (GST), we are in the process of adopting financial technology,” he explained.

Notably, Mumbai Dabbawalas too has a Fortune 500 clientele including Deliotte, KPMG, Philips, Siemens and Uber, Ola too, among plenty of others.

“We are getting software made to manage funds from their inoperative income, which comes from advertising, training and lecture sessions and even charity. All this income is deposited in their their trust,” said Andre.

He also said that their team is expanding to cities like Chennai and Pune.

Recently, Mumbai Dabbawalas partnered with Paytm Payments Bank, a digital bank from PayTM which provides zero balance accounts and zero charges on digital transactions. As part of this partnership, around 5000 dabbawalas is now able to collect instant payments for their Dabba service through Paytm QR.

In 2016 after launch of PM Modi’s Digital India initiative, the dabbawalas adopted the technology through their ‘Digital Dabbawala’ website. The website launched is catering customers in Mumbai and Thane areas – they can register themselves online to enjoy Dabbawala’s service at their doorstep. This will also make payments easier through the online channel and thereby boost the government drive to transform India into a cashless economy. There are currently over 5,000 Dabbawalas working tirelessly in Mumbai delivering over 200,000 lunch boxes each day. With Digital Dabbawala we expand our delivery from just dabbas to last mile delivery of Digital Services.

The Forbes magazine gave the dabbawalas a Six Sigma performance rating or a 99.99999 percent of 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. The New York Times reported in 2007 that the 125-year-old dabbawala industry continues to grow at a rate of 5–10% per year.

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