The co-op is named after Epaphroditus, “a man in the Bible who gathered supplied from the Christians to be one in spirit and purpose.” The co-op was inspired, Deborah says, because “this man’s vision not only looked at one’s needs alone but took others’ needs in consideration.” She is hopeful that the co-op will be able to earn 500,000 shillings ($180) per month, and encourages other members of the Kifumbiro community to join “at free will attracted by the achievements of current members.”
The Epaphroditus co-op grows Mushrooms, and is uniquely situated for trade, as the village is about 25 miles from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. However, there are challenges. Deborah explains, “we started off by saving the small specified sums of money to finance the initial project. Some members did not honor their monthly contribution, majorly due to lack of resources.” For those that were able to save, the co-op helped finance individual’s business ideas, but was unable to provide business management skills and as such “many of the businesses [failed] and recoverability was impossible. The co-op became dormant for some time.”
With the switch toward mushrooms, it’s been easier for everyone to get on equal footing. The co-op is able to support everyone in the same capacity, and there are no individual businesses, but rather a collective one. She believes Africa Development Promise can help provide the co-op with “skills development in both the mushroom growth and general business management, and additional resources to support expansion.”
Deborah Serukeera is intensely smart. “I know that everyone needs to eat and thus we must grow the food. I believe that there will always be a market for food stuffs at all times. And yet she doesn’t have a desire to go it alone, to work and make profit by herself. “The idea of carrying each other’s burdens keeps the motivation alive. The members desire to see each other progress not leaving each other behind,” she says.
Deborah has 7 children, ranging in age from 10 to 30 (Tony, Flavia, Gloria, Viola, Joel, Timothy, and Tricia – try saying them all in one breath). She received her education up to the high school level, with a diploma in Bible school after that. Her hobbies, not surprisingly, are “going to church and listening to music.”
She loves when her children are around her eating Chicken Luwombo (chicken steamed in banana leaves, her favorite), and would never consider leaving her village, regardless of how many opportunities there may be in town. “Firstly, because this is home, but as well one can afford to own a lot of land at a cheaper cost. The village is calm and quiet with lots of fresh cool air.”