Entrepreneur in driver’s seat

By Michael McQuillan
March 5, 2005

Like many entrepreneurs, Kaniz Dhirani came up with the idea for a business venture when she found a need that was not being met. It was when she tried to find a driving school with a female instructor for her 17-year-old daughter that she saw the makings of a business.

Dhirani was surprised when she couldn’t find any female instructors. Almost all of them are male.

Intrigued by this, Dhirani did some more research. In B.C. just eight per cent of driving instructors are female, yet more than 50 per cent of the clientele are women. In addition, there were few driving schools serving the broad range of customers where English is a second language.

Dhirani believes there is an untapped niche demand in driving instruction and that’s why she’s established Ladybug Driving School. Women, she said, would prefer to be instructed by women. Learning to drive can be a nerve-wracking episode but could be less so with a female instructor.

Dhirani, who speaks six languages including Hindi and Swahili, feels ethnic women will also take advantage of the school. “When you have a language barrier, you also have a fear,” she said. “It’s difficult to learn when you have that kind of fear.”

Dhirani figures some of her potential clients will be like her daughter. Finding a female instructor is vital because of her Muslim faith. “There are many other cultures where it is important,” said Dhirani.

The single mother officially launches her business this Wednesday, which happens to be International Women’s Day. She developed the idea while enrolled in the Douglas College Self-Employment Program. While not finished the course, she feels equipped to get her new business up and running. Dhirani has been an entrepreneur since her late teens when she began helping out her father.

She’ll start the business with just one brand new car, but sees the need to expand in the near future with more cars and more instructors. Her preference is to hire instructors with language skills, Mandarin and Cantonese would be important.

As for Dhirani’s daughter, she never did find the female instructor she needed. So after she earned her driver instructor license, her daughter became her first pupil.

For more information on Ladybug Driving School, go to www.ladybugdrivingschool.com.