Jim James Ovia (born 4 November 1951) is a Nigerian businessman, a native of Agbor in Delta State, Nigeria. He founded Zenith Bank in 1990.[1][2]

Jim Ovia

Born (1951-11-04) 4 November 1951 (age 70)

Early lifeEdit

Jim Ovia 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.[3][4]


He is the founder of Zenith Bank Plc,[5] Nigeria's tier-1 bank and one of the most profitable financial institutions in Nigeria until 2010, when he moved into the chairman role.[6][7][8] He was the recipient of a Nigerian national honor.[9][10]

During two decades of leadership, he helped position the bank as one of the largest and most profitable in Africa.

Ovia is 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).[11][12] He is a member of the Honorary International Investor Council as well as the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI). He is the Chairman of Cyberspace Network Limited. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in the 50th convocation ceremony of the University of Lagos.[13]

In September 2018, Ovia announced the publication of his book Africa, Rise and Shine published with ForbesBooks.[14]


He is a member of the Governing Council of Lagos State University, Lagos and 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 served on the board of American International School, Lagos (2001–2003).

Ovia headed numerous NGO's at various times including serving as 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 scholarships for the less privileged. He is the founder of the Youth Empowerment / ICT Foundation, which focuses on improving the socioeconomic welfare of Nigerian youths by inspiring and motivating them to embrace Information and communication technology.


  1. ^ Okwumbu, Ruth (2020-07-25). "Jim Ovia: From a clerk to founder of Nigeria's most profitable bank". Nairametrics. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  2. ^ Releases, Forbes Press. "Founder Of Zenith Bank Publishes Inspirational Business Guide". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  3. ^ "Celebrating Banking Wizard, Jim Ovia, at 69". THISDAYLIVE. 2020-11-08. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  4. ^ Hyde, Peace (2018-09-20). "'Not Necessary To Be Born Rich'". Forbes Africa. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  5. ^ "Okowa salutes Jim Ovia at 70". Vanguard News. 2021-11-04. Retrieved 2022-03-04.
  6. ^ "Jim Ovia is one of Nigeria's most successful businessmen - here's how he makes and spends his money". www.pulse.ng. 2019-02-20. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  7. ^ "Adversity Teaches Us to Innovate - Jim Ovia". Businessday NG. 2020-07-29. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  8. ^ Nsehe, Mfonobong. "Nigerian Multi-Millionaire Banker Jim Ovia Becomes Chairman Of Zenith Bank". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  9. ^ "Jim Ovia Is A Zenith Man - Konnect Africa..." Konnect Africa. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  10. ^ "Jim Ovia". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  11. ^ "ZENITHBANK.NG Company Profile & Executives - Zenith Bank PLC - Wall Street Journal". www.wsj.com. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  12. ^ Nsehe, Mfonobong. "Nigerian Banking Tycoon Jim Ovia To Sell Stake In Telecoms Firm To MTN". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  13. ^ Africa, Forbes (2013-06-01). "The Godfather of Nigerian Banking". Forbes Africa. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  14. ^ "Jim Ovia Releases "Africa, Rise and Shine" with ForbesBooks". Forbes. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)