Cattle Mettle: Pilot Stage Enterprise Ready for Take-off

Cattle Mettle: Pilot Stage Enterprise Ready for Take-off

We all know that social entrepreneurs are brilliant, but social entrepreneurs who bring their ideas into fruition are some of the world’s most hard-working and motivated individuals. This blog post introduces Nikhil Bohra, founder of pilot-stage social enterprise, “Cattle Mettle,” that the Frontier Market Scouts staff met at Berkeley’s Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC).


The Problem

India is the global leader in milk production, with approximately 135 million tonnes of production each year (297 billion lbs).[1] However, according to impact investing firm “Venture Dairy,” India produces this amount with entirely too many cattle.[2] In other words, productivity is low and farmers earn far less than they should. Trevor Tomkins of Venture Dairy reports that rural Indian cattle produce 3 litres of milk per day, which could be increased to 15 litres per day with adequate nutrition! Low productivity not only traps the producers in poverty, but leads to wasteful livestock management and land use.

These issues in the upstream dairy supply chain are not unique to India. However, a creative solution was born in Rajasthan. A team of social entrepreneurs has developed a solution that aims to increase productivity, increase farmer income, and improve the environmental footprint of production. Cattle Mettle is a social enterprise that uses the invasive mesquite weed to better nourish cattle, increase milk productivity, increase farmer income, and improve land management.



What was your inspiration for this venture?

NB: I was working with a local NGO, which was a part of a research project on developing different products from Mesquite, and cattle feed was one such product. Though the knowledge around Mesquite had been in public for long, there hadn’t been much research in India on its usage and no one has shown interest or taken risk to establish its supply chain for animal nutrition. Having the knowledge of communities at grassroots level, local and International Mesquite research and technical knowledge as a Biotech engineer, I felt that I was in a better position than others to start and I just did!


What has been the biggest challenge so far?

NB: Our biggest challenge has been in setting up supply chain around raw materials. These pods grow in varied regions and establishing such collection network is an exhaustive task.


What about some rewarding moments?

NB: There have been many proud moments for us:

Once we tested our products with my milkmen, and within a week when he started seeing the benefits, he proposed to supply milk free of cost to us in lieu of cattle feed. This is exactly the model that we want to establish.

We found that villagers are happy to try out new products when it is about increasing the productivity and efficiency of their animals. Every field visit of ours brings a rewarding moment for us, especially increasing knowledge about rural ecosystem and social dynamics.

Along the way, one does find naysayers but recognition like GSVC is something very rewarding for entrepreneurs like us to keep up with our work.


What is the long-term goal for Cattle Mettle in terms of scale?

NB: We aim to supply affordable cattle feed to approximately 200,000 cattle heads every day in next 5 years benefitting 100,000 households in Rajasthan and neighboring states. At such production capacity, we would create over 6000 additional jobs in raw material collection and processing, and stop approximately 40 billion Mesquite seeds from entering into arable and urban regions. Simultaneously, we look forward to pilot in Kenya, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico and, begin commercial sales in this time frame and move a level higher to solve this global problem.


How have you been supported by the growing global network of Social Entrepreneurs and Impact Investors?

NB: Competitions like GSVC are a great platform to showcase your venture and to get valuable feedback from an international perspective. The deliverables required to participate were so exhaustive that they prepare you well with your business models and ensure that you are ready to launch your venture.


What is your message to potential investors?

NB: We are still in search for the right kind of investment partner who could add to our efforts in increasing cattle productivity in India. The investors who we have approached until now either do not have similar portfolio companies in animal nutrition and hence do not want to take the risk or are much focused on other social sectors which have greater benefits/ impact for human.


What is your advice for aspiring social entrepreneurs with an idea?

NB: Start early, fail fast and iterate till you achieve your goal.


Learn more about Cattle Mettle on their website.

About Nikhil:


Nikhil Bohra is a postgraduate in Innovation and Leadership from ASLI and an engineer in Biotechnology from VIT University, where he founded and operated Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Development. He was recently an Innovation Fellow at Bihar Innovation Lab, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and researched on health, nutrition and entrepreneurship.


About the Author:


Cara Hagan is a MIIS MBA with a specialization in Sustainable Supply Chain Management. While at MIIS, she worked as a graduate assistant for CSIL and learned about social entrepreneurship working with the Frontier Market Scouts training. This summer she begins a position as production manager for an artisan jewelry company in Ecuador.


[1] “Indian Dairy Sector Set for Overhaul; to Move from Processors to Producers.” Times Of India. Economic Times, 8 July 2014. Web. 14 June 2015.

[2] “Indian Dairy Sector Set for Overhaul; to Move from Processors to Producers.” Times Of India. Economic Times, 8 July 2014. Web. 14 June 2015.


Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning and Opus Prize Recipient, to speak at MIIS

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning and Opus Prize Recipient, to speak at MIIS

S Yacoobi - Profile Photo


When: Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 4 – 6pm

Where: McCone Irvine Auditorium

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, an award-winning social innovator who is Founder and CEO of the Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL), will speak at the Monterey Institute in Irvine Auditorium on Wednesday, October 29, at 4pm. Dr. Yacoobi’s visit to the Institute will be hosted by the Center for Social Impact Learning (CSIL) in partnership with The Women’s International Perspective (The WIP).

“Globally, women and girls are not afforded the same educational opportunities as men. One dramatic consequence is lower health outcomes,” says Kate Daniels Kurz, The WIP Director. “We are looking forward to Dr. Yacoobi’s talk on the successful innovations she has put forth to improve the education and health of Afghan women and children.”

Dr. Yacoobi founded AIL in 1995 as a way to provide training, education and healthcare to Afghans, with a particular focus on women and children. AIL was the first organization to open Learning Centers for Afghan women – a concept that has been replicated by many organizations across Afghanistan. AIL has become internationally recognized for improving the health and education of Afghan women and children. Under Dr. Yacoobi’s leadership, AIL has helped 12 million Afghans through schools, learning centers, and medical clinics. In 2005, Dr. Yacoobi was awarded the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy. Sakena was among the 1,000 women nominated to jointly receive the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2013, Dr. Yacoobi won the prestigious Opus Prize, an award that “honors unsung heroes of any faith tradition with a $1 million award for efforts to solve today’s most persistent and pressing global issues, including poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, and injustice.”

“I am honored to be the first speaker in CSIL’s Impact Pioneers Speakers Series,” says Dr. Yacoobi. “I really believe that students today, like those at the Monterey Institute, are going to be the ones who make the world a better place, and I look forward to speaking with the MIIS students about my work over the last 20 years, and the situation of the people of Afghanistan.”

Dr Yacoobi with PEP student 06-XX9E0258

Dr.Yacoobi was born in Herat, Afghanistan and educated in California. She holds a master’s degree in public health from Loma Linda University and a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of the Pacific. Dr. Yacoobi holds honorary doctorates from the University of the Pacific, Loma Linda University, Santa Clara University, the University of St. Joseph and Princeton. She is an emeritus member of the board of directors of the grant-making Global Fund for Women and serves on the advisory board for the Monterey Institute’s Center for Social Impact Learning, as well as New Global Citizens, which connects young people with international NGOs to help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues at a grassroots level. Previously, she was a professor at D’Etre University and a health consultant.

During her guest lecture, Dr. Yacoobi’s speaking topics will cover the challenges she faced in starting AIL and the current status of women and girls in Afghanistan. The event will mark the launch of CSIL’s Impact Pioneers Speaker Series.  Throughout the year, CSIL will host a series of practical and compassionate entrepreneurs and change makers as a way to drive inspiration and thought leadership on social innovation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.  Visit:

This event is free and open to the public. For further inquiries, visit or contact Erina McWilliam-Lopez at 831.647.4645.

CSIL Door Sign 3

About CSIL: The Center for Social Impact Learning (CSIL) is a premier action learning and research institution focusing on the social impact of business and financial investment, specifically in the areas of social enterprise and impact investment management and mainstream business perspectives and decisions regarding the long-term impacts of today’s actions.

CSIL serves a full spectrum of budding social entrepreneurs offering them valuable and practical learning experiences as well as a launch pad for an impact driven career.

About The WIP: Based at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, The Women’s International Perspective (The WIP) is your global source for women’s perspectives. The WIP reports news, world opinion, and commentary through our Feature Articles, Byline Portal, Current Headlines, and community blog. Our mission is to provide quality articles from the unique perspectives of women, accessible worldwide, and free to readers. The WIP is a balanced media source that promotes diversity. We are not associated with any religious, political, or cultural affiliation. As a worldwide collective of writers, The WIP is an opportunity to balance the tremendous under-representation of women journalists and offer a greater diversity of background and opinion than typically found in mainstream publications. The WIP strives to bring together divergent cultures, opinions, and ideas in solution-based dialogue.

About MIIS:The Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College, has been preparing graduate professionals for global careers since 1955. Located in Monterey, California, the Institute offers advanced degrees in international business,international education management, international environmental policy, international policy studies, language teaching, localization management, nonproliferation and terrorism studies, public administration, and translation and interpretation, as well as a variety of specialized certificates and programs. The Institute, whose approximately 800 students come from more than 50 countries, is also home to the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP), the Center for the Blue Economy, and the Center for Conflict Studies. Visit forcampus news or tofind an expert.


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