Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Ivonne Herrarra


Queens, New York

“Owning a business is a headache and I spent years caring for other people’s headaches. I wanted my own!” – Ivonne Herrarra

Opportunities happen every day, but it takes a special person to make something of them. When Ivonne entered a sweepstakes contest, her life was changed forever. She won a vacation to New York City and fell in love with it. The people, the energy, the intensity it made me feel alive, she said with a grin.


A year later, Ivonne made the decision to move to Queens from her native Peru. She found herself job at a Mexican deli. It was a far cry from the teaching jobs she held back home, but Ivonne reveled in her new responsibilities. She learned accounting, inventory control, marketing, and developed a sense of responsibility for the business.


I really cared about the deli, but the owners were an older couple and they were exhausted, she says. Things went downhill when they brought an inexperienced relative to manage the store. The deli fell victim to poor management and it closed soon after. Ivonne found herself at crossroads once more.


Suddenly, another opportunity presented itself for Ivonne. She noticed a vacancy sign on an old restaurant building. Again Ivonne seized upon an opportunity, signed a lease and registered her new business, Kokoroko. She opened just in time to celebrate Peru’s Independence Day.


Kokoroko quickly became a staple in the community, hosting concerts, birthday parties and karaoke. The restaurant serves hearty Peruvian dishes like Lomo Saltado and Aji de Gallina. However, winter arrived and Kokoroko did not have central heating. As the temperature dropped, so did Kokoroko’s sales.


Ivonne came to Ascendus 3 months ago. With a $5,000 loan, Ivonne was able to install the heating system Kokoroko needed to survive the winter.


Though she admits that her journey has been unusual, Ivonne is certain that the risks have been worthwhile. With Kokoroko, I feel finally confident about the future, and the headaches no longer feel like headaches; they’re simply lessons worth learning.

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