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Last mile delivery to the bottom of the pyramid in Brazilian slums

André Luis de Castro Moura Duarte (Business School, Insper, Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Flavio Macau (School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia)
Cristiano Flores e Silva (Business School, Insper, Sao Paulo, Brazil) (Department of Civil Engineering, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal)
Lars Meyer Sanches (Business School, Insper, Sao Paulo, Brazil)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 14 February 2019

Issue publication date: 12 June 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore last mile delivery (LMD) to the bottom of the pyramid in Brazilian slums, its challenges and how practitioners overcome them. Urban logistics in precarious circumstances is central to the conceptualization.


A qualitative, grounded theory methodology is developed, gathering data from companies delivering to slums in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Field notes, documents and interviews led to conceptual categories for LMD to slums.


The study indicates that while some standard urban logistics practices can be effective for LMD to slums, such unusual contexts often call for unusual solutions. A model is developed using grounded theory categorization, resulting in five dimensions for LMD to slums: employing locally, giving back, acknowledging criminals, vehicle and location.

Research limitations/implications

The model is a qualitative proposition representing LMD to slums in two major Brazilian cities. Even though slums in different cities/countries may face similar conditions, additional studies are needed to confirm and replicate the model.

Practical implications

Companies that successfully engage in LMD to slums must adapt and develop idiosyncratic practices.

Social implications

LMD to slums enables a larger portion of bottom of the pyramid consumers to access a wider range of products and work opportunities, contributing to their social inclusion.


The study provides an understanding of LMD in a new context. The model encourages companies to question their current practices, learning from effective LMD experiences implemented by successful practitioners.



Duarte, A.L.d.C.M., Macau, F., Flores e Silva, C. and Sanches, L.M. (2019), "Last mile delivery to the bottom of the pyramid in Brazilian slums", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 49 No. 5, pp. 473-491.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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