Mehul Advani and Paavnee Misra
Mehul Advani and Paavnee Misra Image Credit: Supplied

When a duo of Dubai-based high school students, Paavnee Misra and Mehul Advani, did not know what to do with their used books, they had an idea that would not only help the environment but also assist those struggling to get an education amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The teenagers set up a website called ‘The Textbook Tree’ that lists used books for a nominal price and a part of the proceeds goes to charity.

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Besides pre-loved textbooks, the website also lists notes and other academic resources.

“We read news articles of people struggling during the coronavirus pandemic and paying for books for the next year could be difficult,” Misra said (“Coronavirus: Parents continue to plead for school fee discounts”, Gulf News, April 16).

"So we decided to launch the website during the summer break to help those starting school in the upcoming academic year," she added.

Environmental initiative

Misra and Advani decided to help the UAE community while choosing to contribute to a charity that would help save the environment.

The Indian duo has collaborated with the Emirates Nature-WWF to donate five per cent of each textbook's sale value.

"Five per cent of the sales value goes to charity, while the rest goes to the seller. Our service is basically to serve as a middleman between a buyer and a seller," Misra said.

Misra and Advani, who are 17-years-old and 18-years-old respectively, decided to offer a delivery service for buyers who are not able to meet the sellers directly, especially during the pandemic.

“Since Mehul just turned 18 and got a driver’s license, if a buyer has put in a request for us to deliver the materials we do it personally and charge Dh20. We set a standard amount that also helps us fund the website fee,” said Misra.

The students believe in sustainable economics and their website is a venture into their vision.

“We both deeply care about the community and the environment and want to learn more about it. I will be learning more as I begin studying economics at my first year in university in the upcoming academic year and Mehul will begin a degree in environmental studies,” said Misra.

Currently, the students have seen a rise in the number of transactions on their website as the new school year is close to starting in the UAE.