The story of Master Aluminium - From a potter to a self-made engineer


The Inclusive Dairy Enterprise (TIDE) project continues to transform the Ugandan dairy sector through private sector engagement and by generating an estimated 4 million Euro in co-investments in 2018. 

Most of the times obtaining a degree in a specific subject determines your career path in life. But who says that you cannot reinvent yourself after your studies?

Ismail Mutebi is an entrepreneur who founded Master Aluminium, a company that makes energy-saving cookstoves for schools. After high school, Ismail interrupted his studies for economic reasons and started working as a potter in construction sites.  Five years later, with his savings, he started his own aluminium business specialised in the production of spoons, saucepans and charcoal stoves for small households. Later, he learned how to fabricate motor spare parts with brass. After self-learning the art of copper and brass, Ismail was ready for a new challenge. He decided to enlarge his company and produce energy-saving cookstoves for schools.

His company immediately started to receive orders from schools located in Kampala and Sout-Western Uganda, where usually 500 or more children consume their meals. The stoves are lined with clay and use very little firewood to allow free-smoke cooking. 

A cook at St. Aloysius primary school readies for meal preparation time

Ismail proudly displays some of his energy saving cook stoves

A big order of 107 cookstoves came also from schools involved in SNV's school milk programme. In these schools, kitchens had traditional cookstoves consuming a lot of firewood and producing unhealthy smoke. For this reason, SNV approached Master Aluminium to supply cookstoves to the schools involved in its school milk project. As part of the project, SNV offered a 50% matching grant to all schools interested in purchasing the improved cookstoves in order to improve food safety and hygiene in their kitchens and reduce smoke pollution. With each party contributing 1.5 million UGX (340 EUR), schools are now able to purchase the 3 million UGX (680 EUR) cookstove produced by Master Aluminium.

However, producing 107 cookstoves with an initial capital of 200 million UGX (45,455 EUR) was not possible for Ismail at that time. To help him kick-start the cookstove production, SNV introduced him to EBO Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) which loaned him 30 million UGX (6,818 EUR) while the rest of the money was loaned by SNV at 12% per annum interest rate. 

To reach his target, Ismail decided to focus only on the production of cookstoves and put aside other aluminium products. In one year time, he managed to produce 107 cookstoves versus the average 4-6 cookstoves produced the year before, with an expected net income of at least 100 million UGX (22,727 EUR) after completion of the order.

Master Aluminium is one of many private sector actors whose business is being radically transformed through the partnership and support of SNV 's TIDE project funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kampala.  So far, the TIDE project has signed over 31 grant agreements and in 2018 has provided 4.4 billion UGX 1 million EUR) worth of grant subsidies to dairy farmers and schools, leveraging an estimated 17.6 billion UGX (4 million EUR) in co-investments from the private sector.  

Read more about the TIDE project.


Story by Dorah Egunyu, SNV Communications Officer in Uganda.