Presh (center) with 2014 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Rajaram (right)

Presh rushes into the classroom a few minutes after the lunch bell rings, with an ice pack in one hand and a textbook in the other.  She apologizes for running late; she had to visit the trainer to deal with a cross-country injury and then got sidetracked discussing political action committees with her social studies teacher.  But Presh is more than just a busy high school senior; Presh is also on a mission to use  microfinance to change the world.

Presh spent the first eight years of her life in the Philippines, a country that she remembers for both its extreme poverty and its strong entrepreneurial drive.  When her family immigrated to San Francisco she experienced culture shock, but quickly felt a sense of belonging in her new home in the Tenderloin thanks to a “supportive community” of neighbors.

“Despite the neighborhood’s notorious reputation…the TL opened my eyes to the beauty of diversity in ethnicity, culture, and ideas,” Presh said.

Inspired by a few helpful organizations and role models in her neighborhood, Presh joined San Francisco’s Youth Commission in order to address the social justice issues surrounding marginalized communities.  As representative of the Tenderloin and South of Market areas, she is responsible for advising the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor on legislative policies, programs, priorities and budgets concerning San Francisco youth.

Fueled by these experiences and her desire to address social injustice, Presh was drawn to Kiva’s mission.She joined her Kiva U campus lending team, and made her first loan to a man in South America so he could install a solar power system in his home.  

“He wanted to help his family, his community, and the environment,” Presh recalls, “Of course I wanted to help him.”   

Over the past three years, Presh has become an active Kiva supporter and a strong believer in the power of microfinance. She was even recently honored by the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, and was invited to speak at the 2014 conference on one of her favorite topics: microfinance as a solution to gender inequality and food security.

“Spending three days with people so dedicated to ending world hunger was beyond inspiring,” Presh said, “The experience was formative for me; I want to challenge, engage with, and share microfinance as a human-focused solution.  Not just with my peers, or my neighborhood, or my home country, but the world.”
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