Latest News | 1 March 2022

Dare to Dream: How a good business can change lives

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Derby is home to a number of inspirational entrepreneurs – and at this year’s Annual Business Event, one of them, Lesley So, the founder of So Good Kombucha, delivered the ever-popular Dare to Dream speech.

Earlier this year, So Good Kombucha, which creates and sells a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks, was named as Marketing Derby’s Rising Star for 2022.

Lesley came up with the idea for the business after noticing a gap in the UK market for a non-alcoholic fizzy drink alternative that is vegan, allergen-free, natural, low-in-sugar and, above all, healthy.

Such was her faith in the project that she decided to leave her job at Rolls-Royce, where she was vice-president of marketing, to pursue her dream of running her own start-up business, producing kombucha.

However, as well as being an entrepreneur, Lesley is a champion of the marginalised in the community, particularly refugees and asylum seekers who have been forced to leave their homes in pursuit of safety and freedom.

So, when she founded So Good Kombucha, she wanted to create business with a social purpose that was sustainable and ethical.

In her Dare to Dream speech, Lesley, who was recently named as one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in the UK by f:Entrepreneur, told the ABE: “A significant time in my life was when I worked in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“It’s an incredible city – with glamorous high rises but at the same time, abject poverty.

“And I saw first-hand how a good business can change lives. How having worked at a reputable company like Rolls-Royce can make a career which, in turn, can lift entire families out from the cycle of hopelessness and poverty.

“This is a vision that I held onto – that one day I would be able to have my own business – to make something that’s good for people, good for the planet and create good employment for those who are marginalised in society.”

Lesley explained that out of all the cities she has lived in across the world, she wanted to establish her business in Derby because of one thing above all else – its people.

She said: “Having lived in 10 cities in five countries in my life, I chose Derby to be the home of my business not only because it’s the right size, it’s well-situated, and that it offered a good standard of living.

“No, I chose Derby because of the people. People who are genuine and generous, people who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are passionate about their city.

“People who are industrious and innovative, people who come together – people who don’t quit. People who are welcoming to those who are different from themselves, people who celebrate diversity and culture, people who are inclusive – people who have welcomed me.

“My Dare to Dream is to see Derby thrive as hub for good businesses – makers, traders, businesses with real social purposes.

“Because a good business can change lives. It can give people more than just a wage – it gives them purpose and meaning. It shows them that they are accepted and that they have a place where they belong.”

To watch Lesley’s speech in full – and the rest of the ABE – click here.

To find out more about So Good Kombucha click here.

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