Abstract Insufficient energy supply and low levels of development are closely linked. Both are major issues in Uganda where growing demand cannot be met by overstretched infrastructure and the majority still rely on traditional biomass use. Uganda's renewable energy policy focuses on decentralised sources including modern biomass. In this paper, stakeholder dynamics and potential socio-economic impacts of eight modern bioenergy feedstock production models in Uganda are considered, and key considerations for future planning provided. For these models the main distinctions were land ownership (communal or private) and feedstock type (by-product or plantation). Key social issues varied by value chain (corporate, government or farmer/NGO), and what production arrangement was in place (produced for own use or sale). Small, privately owned production models can be profitable but are unlikely to benefit landless poor and, if repeated without strategic planning, could result in resource depletion. Larger projects can have greater financial benefits, though may have longer term natural resource impacts felt by adjacent communities. Bioenergy initiatives which allow the rural poor to participate through having a collaborative stake, rather than receiving information, and provide opportunities for the landless are most likely to result in socio-economic rural development to meet policy goals. The structured approach to understanding stakeholder dynamics used was found to be robust and sufficiently adaptable to provide meaningful analysis. In conclusion; local, context-specific planning and assessment for bioenergy projects, where all stakeholders have the opportunity to be collaborators in the process throughout its full lifecycle, is required to achieve rural development objectives.