Photo / Karen Ishiguro

Jaguar Grant Winner Hannah Hardy-Jones Is A Start-Up Success

The first recipient of Jaguar's 'She Sets The Pace' community grant, she's driving change in tech and mental health

A passionate mental health advocate, Hannah Hardy-Jones is the CEO and founder of Kite Program, a bespoke app that provides support groups, organisations and causes with resources for health and wellbeing support, and she has been chosen for Jaguar’s first round of funding. Launched earlier this year, the innovative ‘She Sets The Pace’ community grant sees the luxury car brand investing in changemakers and people addressing the status quo — providing funding for people challenging conventions, something Hannah and Kite Program have been tackling in a multitude of ways.

Launching a start-up in the tech space wasn’t easy. “Women in tech are hugely underrepresented (and women founders in general) and of the top 150 Silicon Valley companies only 4 per cent are run by women,” she explains. “Women are far less likely to receive VC funding or investment than their male counterparts and the culture is often around work hard play hard which as a mum of young kids proves challenging and unrealistic!” She found the gender imbalance in the tech industry a struggle to navigate. “When I first started Kite I lacked confidence in my skills because of the perception that you needed to be a male in his 20s to make it big in the tech world. I was also very aware that I was a mum and that I had to juggle my family life whereas so many founders don’t have to consider this. It was almost a feeling of embarrassment and that it would count against me. I couldn’t see anyone anything similar and felt really isolated.”

Her start-up, Kite Program, also aims to challenge the obstacles and status quo around mental health, especially for women, and highlights the gender-based obstacles that prevent people from receiving the help and support they need. “I think all mental health has been under-supported. However, when it comes to mental health stigma with women there is a lot placed on new mothers and the perception that you need to be a perfect Instagram mum,” she says. “There is increased pressure on mums but the support and funding are minimal and long waiting lists if you are struggling.” She cites stereotypes and workplace power structures as some contributing factors to why women don’t seek help. “In the corporate world, there is still a huge gap in support for women (not just mothers), particularly in leadership roles. The pressure to break gender biases for women often means that mental health struggles are kept hidden and women feel the pressure to perform better than their male counterparts.” There is still a lot of judgment, she believes, and that challenges with mental health can lead to you being perceived as a weak person.

READ: Jaguar Introduces Its Exciting New Grant 'She Sets The Pace'

The start-up was founded on Hannah’s personal experience - her postpartum bipolar diagnosis and journey to recovery. “It was a scary and very traumatic time, and a terrible way to start my motherhood journey. It almost broke me and shattered my dreams for life,” she reveals. “I am so proud to have come out the other side and to be in the position I am today. I wouldn’t change what happened to me.” Her need for support was the seed for what became Kite Program.

Applying for the grant offered a welcome chance to stop and take stock. “I loved having the chance to really reflect on my journey and my ‘why’,” she says. “Any time I refer back to my journey and the challenges I have faced it makes me realise how far I have come.”

Photo / Karen Ishiguro

Her story resonated with Jaguar’s panel of judges — including Jaguar CFO Natasha Mannering, Viva editor Amanda Linnell and motorsport figure Tiffany Chittenden — and they selected Hannah from a wide-ranging swathe of excellent entries (who will remain in the pool of entrants and may be chosen for the remaining grants). “Hannah is trying to break down the stigma of mental illness. By discussing mental health publicly, she is challenging conventions by bringing the topic into the mainstream and trying to change perceptions,” said the judges. “Hannah has a clear objective and with the grant will develop a resource to support women who are on a breast cancer recovery journey. Apps are accessible to anyone, so the support is available to and can reach women anywhere in New Zealand.”

READ: Tiffany Chittenden Is Driving Change In Motorsport

The grant money will help Kite Programme on its journey to expand and support more people. “Kite is moving toward creating more resources for very specific issues or causes including supporting people on their IVF journey, mothers in NICU, baby loss and grief, and supporting parents with children with an autism/neurodiverse diagnosis,” says Hannah. “By sharing my story I hope to inspire, both from a mental health perspective and a female founder perspective. By speaking out and hopefully inspiring women and girls. That you can manage a serious mental illness and be successful.”

Hannah will be joined by two other ‘She Sets The Pace’ grant winners, to be chosen later this year. The funding forms a key part of Jaguar’s wider mission for 2022. The luxury brand has a history of supporting and collaborating with women in motoring, and this new grant ensures that challenging conventions doesn’t end on the race track — offering convention-breakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 to pursue their passions and continue to challenge stereotypes in their industry.

Photo / Karen Ishiguro



Are You Challenging Conventions?

Jaguar has two more $10,000 grants to award this year, and you could win one of them.

What’s Jaguar looking for?

Someone who isn’t afraid to fly in the face of common assumptions, has overcome barriers or obstacles to achieve success, and is making an impact. Entrants must show how they are challenging conventions in their field, and detail how they would use the $10k grant funding. The panel will consider each entrant’s achievements, immediate need, future potential and more.

What’s in the ‘She Sets The Pace’ Grant?

$10,000 cash: Each grant recipient will receive $10,000 to help them continue challenging conventions in their chosen field.
A profile in Viva: See your story in print with an article, photoshoot, and supporting content created by the Viva team, sharing your journey and helping inspire others.
Experience the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE: Recipients will enjoy the use of a Jaguar I-PACE for three months. Jaguar’s first all-electric SUV, this model represents a new era for the brand.

Apply now

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