Dr Anita Sharma, Founder of “Drive On My Own”, is passionate about making people with disabilities independent by teaching them how to drive. Before starting her entrepreneurial journey, she was a Professor at IIM Amritsar. Anita was doing well in her career but she was meant for something bigger.
Anita Sharma wants to bring a subsequent change in people’s mindsets about people with disabilities so that they can also take care of themselves as efficiently as any other person can.
It is not wrong to say that Dr Anita Sharma offers people with disabilities wings by teaching them how to drive. Let’s hear her side of the story!
Tell us something about yourself and your journey.
I have done my PhD from IIM Indore in Strategy & Entrepreneurship. By profession, I am a Professor and an Entrepreneur as well. I run an organisation “Drive On My Own” that helps people with disabilities to learn driving and become independent.
When I was 6 months old, I contracted Polio and because of this, I have a 65% disability in my lower limb. I cannot walk without my clutch, stick or support. But despite all this, I always say that my condition cannot restrict me from doing what I love the most i.e., driving.
How Do You Get The Idea Of Your Driving School?
The story behind how I got the idea of driving school is quite interesting. I was attending an event on disability when a girl with a disability came to me. and said, “Anita, I want to be like you. I want to drive like you and become independent.”
I asked her if she wanted to learn to drive then she should contact driving schools but then she told me that driving schools don’t teach driving to people who have any kind of disability. After much insistence from the girl and her family, I agreed to teach her driving. I used to teach her every weekend and in a few weeks that girl learned how to drive and bought a car for herself. That was the moment when I felt like I didn’t just teach that girl how to drive but I also gave her wings to go anywhere without anyone’s support.
Apart from this, I already taught driving to some of the people at my college where I was the Professor. That was when I realised that no driving school in India trains people with disabilities. After receiving positive feedback from all the students, I decided to start my own driving school.
There is no boundary if you have a firm determination. What is your take on it?
I believe that people with disabilities have a different approach to looking at things. Their courageous nature and never giving attitude give them the strength to defy all odds. When the world tries to push them back by saying that they can’t do it because of their physical limitations then they do it with even more determination.
If we are determined to do something then no one can stop us. Society can stop us only when we have doubts about ourselves. But if we have made up our minds then nothing is impossible.
What Passion means to you?
Driving is a passion for me. And I want to help all those who want to learn to drive. By teaching people how to drive, I live my passion every single time. In India, there are no driving schools that teach people with disabilities but many want to learn. Bridging this gap between demand and supply, I am helping others to fulfil their passion for driving.
What are your future plans? Do you plan to expand your driving school to other cities as well?
I am planning to collaborate with the Government and Corporates that are manufacturing cars and auto parts. Through “Drive On My Own”, we want to create awareness in manufacturers that this market is huge and has a lot of potentials. It is not difficult to teach driving to people with disabilities but getting a car with the right types of modification is difficult.
I am trying to build an ecosystem where a person with a disability not only learns to drive but also can buy a customised car with the modification according to his\her needs. Basically, we want to build a system that caters to all kinds of needs right from the purchasing of a car to getting a driving licence and driving without any problem.