By Aswasan “AJ” Joshi
Jassy Davis, writer and recipe developer, famously, once wrote “Wherever you are in the world, you can be sure of just one thing: when it comes to ice pops, they're no longer just for kids.” It is hard to disagree with Jassy on this. The legend goes that back in 1905, an 11-year-old Frank Epperson inadvertently invented ice pops when he left a mixture of sugar powder and water overnight when it was frosty outside. We are grateful to Frank. Now thanks to Sweet Fix, Kathmanduites, as summer beckons, can enjoy locally sourced, all-natural and, more importantly, guilt-free refreshing popsicles.
Founded in 2018 by two students, Kritika Lamsal and Shreya Upadhyay, Sweet Fix is the story of turning a hobby into a legitimate business through sheer hard work. In search for healthier alternatives to sugary frozen snacks with artificial flavoring, the duo set out to create health-friendly ice lollies that did not make them feel guilty for craving something refreshing in a scorching day. After a lot of tweaking and iterations, they decided to actually start selling these popsicles, having received rave reviews from friends and family. Today, they have more than 60 flavors—from passionfruit and kiwi to strawberry cheesecake and guava spice and sell hundreds of popsicles every day. Since they use fresh fruits, their flavors are seasonal. These popsicles are handcrafted in small batches from scratch in their own production space in Dhapasi—which is fully women-powered. Free from any preservatives and mostly lactose-free and vegan, Sweet Fix ice pops can either be ordered online through Order Sathi or can be bought from their cute little pop-up store in Freak Street, Basantapur. Even for their creamy pops they use premium-grade dairy ingredients, which makes them a perfect healthier replacement to sherbets, ice-creams as well as milkshakes. For winter seasons, they have artfully come up with hot chocolate sticks that can be stirred in hot milk or water. Recently, Sweet Fix gourmet products have been a popular gifting item and are also ordered in bulk for various events.
For the company to be where it is right now, Kritika and Shreya had to really get their hands dirty and learn the tricks of the trade from ground up. They had to make sure they were able to source fresh quality produce for their popsicles—be it from small suppliers in Bhaktapur, Kalimati Bazaar or other specialized markets. What’s more, to have customers try their product and get feedback, the duo has been hustling at the Le Sherpa farmer’s market every Saturday. Anyone who has been to the market has seen both kids and adults alike relish and devour Sweet Fix’s delicious low-calorie frozen treats—a welcome change from ice creams that pack more calories and have saturated fat or other lollies that are loaded with fructose corn syrup and artificial food dyes. They have recently also started selling their popsicles at the Labim Mall farmer’s market. On top of that, Sweet Fix does its own delivery to make sure the popsicles reach their customer in exactly the same condition it wants them to. Kritika and Shreya are go-getter and epitomize doggedness. They have had a steep learning curve but haven’t been reluctant to experiment, fail, learn and improve. The One to Watch (OTW) team, when they visited the duo at their production facility in Dhapasi, were mesmerized with how organized and well run it was, albeit in a small scale. The passion that they have for their enterprise is contagious.
In mid-November last year, Sweet Fix applied to OTW COVID-19 MSME Fund Nepal. Through the Fund, they were able to get a loan from Nabil Bank. The Fund will pay the interest for 12 months. They have used the loan to triple their production to around 1,800 popsicles everyday by upgrading their machineries. Likewise, they will be building additional storage systems and will be hiring at least five more employees. In addition to getting collateral-free and interest-free financing, Sweet Fix has also been receiving technical assistance from OTW through tailored business development services. OTW intends to help Sweet Fix build relationships, optimize cost, explore co-branding options and navigate marketing efforts as it looks to scale and take its business to the next level. Sweet Fix, through OTW’s help, seeks to rigorously explore B2B options with schools, colleges and banquets this summer. OTW is expecting to deliver these customized business development services to at least 4 out of 10 loan-approved enterprises through the Fund.