At age 13, Nyenatee Davis GS’20 embarked on his first business venture when he started selling candy to his classmates to help his parents support their family. “I had no idea that the need to survive was birthing in me an entrepreneurial ability,” he says. That experience would eventually grow into a lifelong passion. Today, Davis is a successful businessman in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, where he operates a car rental service and manages rental properties with his wife. And he’s looking to pay it forward and share his profit for business by hosting seminars for aspiring entrepreneurs—helping share skills he honed at Bethel University.
Davis grew up in Liberia, one of the poorest countries in Africa. His parents raised 14 children in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home, and their family bore the scars of the country’s civil war. His parents raised six of their own children and adopted eight cousins whose parents were missing during the war. “My family had to find a way to survive,” he says. That need to survive led Davis to his first business ventures. Then in 2004, Davis came to the U.S. for college. He recalls it feeling like he was on another planet. Everything was new—the culture, food, people, and the language. “Sometimes, it felt like being in kindergarten again,” he says. But shortly after Davis became a permanent U.S. resident and earned an undergraduate degree, he started reading books about business and it reignited his desire to become an entrepreneur.
After graduating, Davis and his wife, Ruby, bought their first rental property. Davis also started a preschool in Brooklyn Park, which the couple later sold, while he worked another job. But Davis longed for more. He wanted to move from lower to middle and upper management and to start his own business. “I couldn’t have brought those dreams to fruition unless I get the education and develop my skills,” he says. To Davis, the answer was to sharpen his business skills by pursuing an MBA, and Bethel was the clear choice. After researching MBA programs, Davis chose Bethel because he saw highly qualified professors, a flexible program that fit his family life, practical and applicable lessons, and an emphasis on leadership, which was “the icing on a cake” to Davis.