Bridging the gap between ‘local’ and ‘global’
When 31-year-old Dr. Aashish Sharma took the first step to start his beverage company, people were quick to remark: ‘You are an idiot to compete with the multinationals’. New to the beverage industry, each and every effort he put was a risk and a ‘journey into the unknown’. Yet he persisted, experimented day in and day out, and worked out new policies in a very conservative and traditional economy.
Today, his Singapore Beverages Nepal Pvt. Ltd. is the largest soft drink company of Nepal. “Every new thing we did, every step we took, every dogma we refused, has led to what we are today,” he says with pride.
Aashish’s accomplishment is significant against the backdrop of Nepal, which is heavily dependent on imports for non-basic products.
A patriot at heart, Aashish was born in a small town in Nepal where he pursued most of his education. After higher secondary, he went to Kathmandu to complete his undergraduation from the South Asian Institute of Management. In 2016, he travelled to Dubai for Masters in International Business from the University of Wollongong, following which he returned to his homeland.
Encouraged by his father to balance studies and work, Aashish had started working in his family tea business at the age of 16. When he returned in 2017, he knew it was now time to work towards his dream of building a Nepalese Company at par with the best in the world.
“Nepal is a beautiful country. Its revenue is tourism and remittance. That is a strength as well as a curse. During my educational journey, I realised that everything we are known for is not made by us, it’s bestowed to us. This is a pending calamity, waiting to strike. I wanted to change this scenario. That led me to Singapore Beverages.”
Aashish successfully launched Singapore Beverages Nepal Pvt. Ltd. in 2017. As the largest soft beverage manufacturer of the country, they produce a long list of beverages like – Jeeru, Club soda, Mountain dew, Club cola, London dry tonic water, London Dry Ginger ale, Fancy, Right, Nimbu pani, Naturals and Fruit gems. They have started exports to USA, UK, Australia and 15 other countries. “This is just the beginning, we are actively involved in mining, distribution, farming, and other industries. We work to achieve the change the country needs,” says Aashish, who serves as the company’s Managing Director.
As a trailblazer in the Nepal economy, what challenges did SBNPL face upon launch? “We live in a developing economy with no benchmarks in the industry we currently function. Dominated with multinationals whose legacy is beyond the comprehension of our country’s economy. Yet we have to prove to every single person that our quality matches theirs. That local product is not ‘Local’. It’s qualitative and competitive. To remove this illusion is a mamothial task, and we do it everyday. To create a phenomena everything should match. A right product can only do its job if it’s put in the right place, at the right time, at the right cost, in the right form. There cannot be a compromise because one mistake would drop you to Ground Zero. That’s our everyday job.”
An industrious go-getter, Aashish aims to provide international quality products to the global society at a reasonable cost, helping Nepal be more independent. “I have always wanted to set a positive example. The place I come from needs radical change. 25 years ago, Nepal was importing vehicles and so was India. We are still doing the same while India has grown to massive heights. One generation has to sacrifice, one generation has to give up on small benefits for the greater good. I want to be that generation. It’s not a one man job, but if like minded people come together, we can create a nation of sustenance and sound economy.”
Aashish’s father sowed the seed of sustenance in him. Since then, it has been a big part of his work ethic. “I have always found wonder in doing new things. Creating new products, exploring possibilities, and more importantly, challenging set mindsets. The most important thing is change, it is inevitable. The faster we realize it the better for us. I like to hand deliver this to people. I want to drive the wheel of change to sustainable development. This is what is needed at troubled times like now.”
Passionate about uplifting the community, he also doubles up as a mentor and teacher for students regularly. A popular young entrepreneur and leader in the country, Aashish believes every leader is a follower too. Telling us how, he says, “A leader is someone who follows his dreams, works hard for it, has a vision, a motive, works with an objective, and tries to create a difference. It’s very important for a leader to make sure that they set an example. And for that, he/she has to follow his own set of rules, ethics, moral responsibility and most importantly vision. A leader is the hardest worker in the room and he always strives to bring out the best in every person under his arsenal.”
Where does this leave him in the rat race? “I believe in being everyone, not just a rat or a tiger. An entrepreneur has to be a rat when needed and a tiger when time demands. My approach is situational. I will not shake hands where you need to bow down and not bow down where you need to hold your head high. One should work as per the need of the situation. If you cannot change as per the situation, the situation will change you as per its need. It’s that simple.”
With such a clear and concise vision, it comes as no surprise that Aashish has been the recipient of various global honours. Some of these include – Awarded Professional Doctorate in International Business and Marketing by European International University; Young Entrepreneur award; Fame Times International Excellence award; Emerging Company award by Indian Achievers Forum; Global Brands and Leaders 2021; and Top 10 Unstoppable Leaders 2022 by Forbes India. Recently the World Book of Records, UK, also recognized and facilitated him with a world record.
Leaving our readers with an inspiring message, Aashish sums up: “Inspiration can be found anywhere. Most of the times the smallest of ideas lead to the biggest achievement. What is important is that you genuinely believe in it and put uncompromised efforts. Today in the time of information revolution, possibility has limits beyond comprehension. So strive for what you believe in and always remember, hardwork has no substitute.”