Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Bessida Ouedraogo

Ms. Babbling Bubbles

Bronx, New York

“With the success of the laundromat, I am now able to purchase a home. Thank God for that loan.”

How Bessida Created an Essential Service in Her New Community

Bessida always wanted to own her own business, even if she did not know what that business would be. It did not matter if it was a discount store, a restaurant, or a coffee shop, all she wanted was to solidify her impact in the world. To Bessida, a business represented independence, being in charge, and the ability to be fully responsible. In 2017 Bessida had saved up enough money to put a down payment on a business. She dove into research on what the most profitable and stable business could be and decided upon a laundromat. “I did not have any specific business in mind. I just had a passion for owning my own business. This passion fueled my drive and motivation, because it meant a great deal for me to do something on my own.”

Originally, Bessida wanted to create a laundromat from the ground up, but it turned out to be more than her budget allowed. So, she decided to take over a failing laundromat. “I was having a challenging time engaging in conversations with existing owners. If I were to invest in a business, I wanted to know what it was like, but all they saw me as was someone who would be their competition.” Bessida decided to audit a laundromat she was interested in buying. She applied as a worker and discovered the ins and outs of the business. “Right away I could see why they were failing and all the things I would need to fix.”


Eventually, Bessida decided to put an offer on the laundromat. “Originally the listed price was $180,000, but because I saw everything that was going on behind the scenes, I knew it was not worth that price. I listed everything that was wrong and was able to negotiate it down to $90,000.” Bessida thought the hardest part would be the audit, but what came after posed its own set of problems. “The workers didn’t trust me because they thought I was dishonest, I worked there and now I was their boss.” Workers quit or gave Bessida a tough time. “They didn’t want to listen when I changed things, even if those things were for the betterment of the business.”

Although the laundromat had its own client base, the clients were wary of Bessida because she was not a resident of the very close-knit neighborhood. “I just did not fit in, in any way. First, I was the only African American business for miles. Second, I was only 24 years old. They thought how someone so young could own her own business. I would hear them saying that I would fail. I did not know how I was going to do it, but I was determined to prove them wrong.”


Bessida decided that as hard as it would be, she would provide what the community needed. She conducted surveys to see what their needs were, offered coupons, loyalty programs, free detergent, and most importantly she spoke one on one to the residents “They were old, and they just wanted someone to sit down and ask them how their day was going. I wanted to do that for them.” Bessida knew improvements to the laundromat were necessary to make it competitive. She implemented a pickup and drop off system, remodeled and renovated, and did everything she could with the funds she had. But the main problem would be too expensive to fix on her own. “We needed new washers and dryers; the old ones were over 40 years old. They took so much energy and power, they were slow, and they were always breaking down.”

Bessida reached out to Ascendus and was able to receive a $20,000 loan to replace the washers and dryers. “These machines are the bread and butter. They use less power so they save me so much money on my bills, and because of how fast they are I can service more customers than before. Everyone is so happy with the new machines.” Today, Bessada’s business is thriving. She has a solid customer base, has grown into the neighborhood, and has employees who value her vision of making the laundromat a great asset to the community. “With the success of the laundromat, I am now able to purchase a home. Thank God for that loan.”

To learn more about Bessida, visit:

sign up for our newsletters

Skip to content