Jim Ovia is a Nigerian businessman, motivational speaker and a writer. The founder of Zenith Bank plc, Visafone communication limited, the chairman of both the Nigerian software development initiatives (NSDI) and the national information technology advisory council (NITAC).

He is a former member of the governing council of the Nigerian investment promotion commission (NIPC). In addition, he is a noted philanthropist.

Tables Of Contents

  • Biography
  • Net Worth
  • Early Career
  • Jim Ovia Rise to Prominence
  • Jim Ovia Personal Life
  • Jim Ovia’s Book – Africa Rise and Shine
  • Jim Ovia Philanthropic Gesture
  • Conclusion

Jim Ovia Biography

Jim Ovia, a Nigerian business mogul was dubbed by forbes Africa as the Godfather of Banking, earned this title by building Nigerians largest bank (Zenith Bank Plc). Jim Ovia was born on the 4th of November, 1951 in Agbor, Delta State. He is the second son of Obi Olihe of Agbor Obi, one of the most revered chiefs in Agbor Kingdom, Delta State according to ReDahlia of entrepreneurs.

He attended Ika grammar school, Bojiboji-Owa for his secondary education, and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Louisiana, Monroe, Louisiana,USA in 1979 and a B.Sc. degree in business administration from southern university, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA in 1977. He is also an Alumnus of Harvard Business School (OPM).

Jim Ovia Net Worth

Jim Ovia, dubbed the “Godfather of Banking” by Forbes Africa, earned this title by building Nigeria’s largest bank (Zenith Bank Plc), is rank as 37 richest man in Africa in 2015 list of 50 richest man in Africa published by Forbes Magazine, With a net worth of $550 million. Although he dropped off in 2016.

Jim Ovia – Early Career

It all started out for Jim, when he worked as a clerk for 3 years at Union Bank, previously known as Barclays Bank in 1973, shortly after he finished his secondary school before moving abroad where he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degree. When he was set to complete his national youth service corps (NYSC) he chooses union bank. Jim also worked at Lions bank where he rose to the position of branch manager in Lagos. Soon after, Jim started working as a financial analyst at international merchant bank (IBM) before he was promoted as a manager in 1980. After spending some years as bank manager at IBM, he migrated to merchant bank of Africa (MBA) and that move later became the turning point of his life.

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Jim Ovia Rise To Prominence

Jim Ovia is a global thought leader in the field of banking, business and entrepreneurship. A man of integrity who believes in the power of passion, perseverance, and dedication to duty. He founded Zenith Bank Plc on May 1990, in the time of tension between military and civilian regimes, period of incredible economic instability, and decaying infrastructure under the then rule of Ibrahim Babangida as military president of Nigeria from 1985 until his resignation in 1993.

Jim Ovia’s Zenith Bank has grown astronomically to become one of the leading financial institutions in Africa. Zenith bank plc is among the top 6 biggest bank in the continent. The bank grew it’s shareholders funds of N20 million in 1990 to N704.50 billion in 2016. Today, the bank continues to thrive on the strong values, brand equity, corporate culture of Professionalism and service excellence which are the foundations upon which the bank was built. Jim also founded visafone communication limited in 2007. Although the company was later acquired by MTN, a leading telecommunication company in Africa in 2015. Before the acquisition, visafone had more than 3 million subscriber’s.

In 1995, Ovia founded Cyberspace Network Limited, which was one of the pioneers of internet services in Nigeria. The company provides software services and network services including 4G LTE, Cyber Max, Metronet.

Jim Ovia Personal Life

Jim Ovia is married to Kay Ovia, known to be quite enterprising. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Quantum Markets and initiator of Star Rising Talent Hunt for children and young adults.

Though her husband is a well known philanthropist, Kay has a long term passion and vision to independently nurture and develop talents in young people through her Star Rising Talent Hunt.

Jim Ovia Book – Africa Rise and Shine

Africa Rise and Shine is a book written by Jim Ovia. Inside the book, Jim explained how he became so successful in life, and also how he managed to create one of Africa’s largest bank. Spanning decades of both world and Nigerian history, Africa Rise and Shine dives deep into the event’s that led to Jim’s triumph. Drawing upon his educational experience and relentless determination, Jim was able to overcome every hurdle that stood in his way of his bank becoming the national icon that it is today.
Africa Rise and Shine is a part-memoir, part-inspirational business guide, reminding entrepreneurs and investor’s around the world of this valuable lesson; you must never allow the perceptions of others, affect your own vision of what is possible for the future.

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Jim Ovia Philanthropic Gesture

Jim Ovia is a good man who is willing to give back to the society, and when he saw the link between lack of quality education and poverty in the community, he founded the Jim Ovia foundation (a non profit organization) which focuses on improving the socioeconomic welfare of Nigerian youths by inspiring and motivating them to embrace information and communication technology (ICT). His long term goal is to bridge the knowledge gap to enable Nigerian youths compete in a global economy and to incorporate ICT into the Nigerian education policy as a fourth science to ensure progressive and continuous learning.

Over 1500 students have been provided scholarship at different higher institutions, where as, more than 3500 has been empowered since 2002. Also, over 500 entrepreneurs have been empowered.

Jim headed numerous Non-governmental organization at different times including serving as the first president of Nigeria internet group (NIG) from 2001-2003. He is the founder and chairman of mankind United to support total education (MUSTE), a philanthropic organization aimed at providing scholarship for the less privilege.

From 1999-2007, Ovia was a member of the governing council of the Nigerian investment promotion commission and also served on the board of American international School in Lagos from 2001 -2003. He is a member of the governing council of Lagos State University, Lagos and a member of the board of trustees, Redeemers University for nation’s, Lagos, Nigeria.


Jim Ovia is a Nigerian Businessman, a philanthropist, a motivational speaker and a writer who work harder to achieve wealth and fame.

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