The Biography of Jim Ovia


Jim Ovía was born on November 4, 1951 in Agbor, Delta State. He is a businessman of repute who in 1990, founded Zenith Bank.

Jim Ovia attended Southern University, Louisiana, USA where he bagged a B.Sc Degree in Business Administration in 1977.

He later attended the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he bagged his Masters degree in 1979. Jim is an Alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School.

After Founding Zenith Bank Plc in 1990, Jim Ovia became the pioneer Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer where he served as CEO until 2010.

In November 2000, Jim Ovia was conferred with the national award of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the President, Federal Government of Nigeria. He had earlier received the Zik Award for professional leadership in April 1999. He was also conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Science [D.Sc) in Finance by the Lagos State University in October, 2005.

Jim Ovia two decades of meritorious leadership builds the bank reputation as one of the largest and most profitable banks in Africa.

He has since transferred into the Chairman role at Zenith Bank and the bank is growing fast. As an accomplished banker with over three decade’s experience, he introduced a great deal of innovations into the Nigerian banking industry.

Zenith Bank won Central Bank’s recognition and approval as one of the few settlement banks in the country. According to industry watchers, it is a testimony to the bank’s successes. Zenith is steered by a man who maintains a reticent public reserve but combines vigor, hard-work and excellence in pursuit of his goal.

Jim Ovia is a member of the Governing Council of Lagos State University, Lagos and also a member of the Board of Trustees, Redeemer’s University For Nations, Lagos. He was a member of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (1999 – 2007) and also served on the board of American International School, Lagos [2001 -2003].

Jim Ovia is also the founder of Visafone Communications Limited and the chairman of both the Nigerian Software Development Initiative (NSDI) and the National Information Technology Advisory Council (NITAC). He is a member of the Honorary International Investor Council as well as the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI). He is also the Chairman of Cyberspace Network Limited.

Jim Ovia is a noted philanthropist and has headed numerous Non-Governmental Organisations [NGO] at various times including being the first President of the Nigeria Internet Group (2001-2003). He is the founder and Chairman of Mankind United to Support Total Education (MUSTE), a philanthropic organization focused on providing scholarship for the less privileged, of which some of the beneficiaries are now qualified professionals in diverse fields. 

He is also the founder of the Youth Empowerment / ICT Foundation, which focuses on improving the socio-economic welfare of Nigerian youths by inspiring and motivating them to embrace Information and communication technology.

Jim Ovia is a motivational speaker and has delivered speeches at several conferences. He has authored several published and unpublished works and he is in the vanguard of promotion and propagation of Information and Communication Technology in Nigeria.

Having been around in the business sector for such a long time, he has over the years become one of the richest men in Africa.

Jim Ovia net worth currently stands at $980 million according to Forbes rating.


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