Getting to know food systems innovator and entrepreneur Lisa Booth

Lisa Booth

Lisa Booth is founder and CEO of Kete Kai, Aotearoa’s most accessible food box — borne out of her frustration with the current food system.

Lisa’s passion for people, community and learning are what drive Kete Kai’s core values, which are based upon redesigning food systems within New Zealand and creating a more affordable, sustainable and accessible option for families on a budget. Her long-term vision is to be part of the change that accomplishes Kete Kai’s Kaupapa which is to end hunger in Aotearoa by 2030.

Lisa is also an activator with SheEO, a global initiative founded by Vicki Saunders that pushes the reset button on how woman-led ventures focused on the world’s to-do list are funded, supported and celebrated.

As a mother, an entrepreneur and a big vision thinker, Lisa describes herself as creative, crazy and often a powerful explosion of energy.

Through her work at Kete Kai, Lisa has been reimagining the food system of New Zealand to ensure that the stats of 1 in 5 New Zealanders living with food insecurity dramatically change.

Lisa is on a mission to end hunger by 2030 through meal kit affordability, being brave, trusting herself, being curious and vulnerable.

Lisa spent years in a corporate role, not feeling valued and her work often not recognised and through a misalignment of values stepped out to show her children what was possible.

Available for:

  • Guest speaker
  • Keynote speaker
  • Panel discussions
  • Media commentary

Here’s your chance to learn more about this inspiring wahine on a mission to end hunger in Aotearoa by 2030:

Where did the idea for your business come from?
We as a team were curious about the food system, driven by high food prices in a country which we know produces enough to feed us all ten times over.  When we unpicked what was creating the high prices, it seemed that there was a lot of economic leak through bad system design.  When you look at people who are struggling to feed their whanau it is hard not to feel moved, angry, and passionate about pushing for change: this now drives us and our Kaupapa to end hunger in New Zealand.

 

How do you juggle managing your business and looking after three children?
My children are incredible, they understand the drive and passion behind my work.  We make our moments count and find space to connect – currently we are learning Te Reo together.  Balance is a constant work in progress for me, but I’m grateful for their caring inquisitive minds keeping me accountable: “Mum, we are doing family time now”.

 

What stage is your business at now?
We are still a start-up; our philosophy is to co-create followed by research and development.  In saying that, we are already revenue generating and have a great product live with our affordable meal kits, our Cambridge Community House meal kit, and our partnering project with Papakura Marae.

 

Do you think there should be more women in leadership roles?
Absolutely, not only women but I think diversity as a whole brings more viewpoints and lenses too.  We have come a long way, from getting the vote, but there is still much work to do with women and indigenous people being such a small minority in our sector or business and tech, funding is hideous and discrimination we need to do more!

 

How did your past contribute to Kete Kai?
Having a family young meant I had to figure out how to feed our tamariki on a small budget. During my career in marketing I saw the amazing technology that was being produced for anything except the food industry.  Food has always been at the heart of my life, but my frustration at seeing stats like 1 in 5 people living with food insecurity drove me to find a better way of connecting people and food.

 

Are there any standout hardships you’ve come across?
There are so many such as people who are in poverty and struggle each week to put kai on their table: something as simple as an unexpected doctor’s bill can strip them of their means to purchase kai for their family that month.  Not knowing if they will even be approved for a meal parcel when times are tough just adds to the anxiety and stress.  But it’s worth remembering that money is not the only contributing factors in food insecurity: we were shocked to meet young people who had been in the system and experienced food trauma through having food withheld , which drives their unhealthy eating behaviours today. In order to look at hunger in Aotearoa you have to pull apart the whole system to find the why.  There are many stories that keep me awake at night.

 

What advice would you have for someone in business?
If you have passion, and your mahi has purpose, you will attract the right people.  Be vulnerable and be curious, invite collaboration and feedback.  Find your tribe: people who empower you and make you feel strong in your vision. SheEO has been one of the shining lights for me on this journey.

 

What does success mean to you?
Success is zero hunger in Aotearoa, a reduced dependency on food parcels, people feeling mana in their food experiences.  I would love for New Zealand to be seen as the shining light in a new food ecosystem that can be shared with the world. I want to see communities empowered, small businesses enabled.  Success is not one hero, success is everyone collectively working together.

 

Where do you hope to be five years from now?
Sharing our tech with the world and empowering other cultures to curate their food future.