Jim Ovia Biography, Net worth, Age, Awards

Jim Ovia is a famous billionaire, successful banker and investor that have written his name on the sand of time using his uncommon skills in wealth building.

Full name

Most people call him Jim Ovia and it is common for many people in the world to be addressed using just two names. His full name is Jim James Ovia.


He celebrated his 71st birthday on the 4th of November 2022

State of Origin

He is from Agbor, Delta State which is geographically located in the present day South –South Nigeria.

Background/ early life

Jim was born on 4th November 1951 to his Nigerian parents from a notable clan in Agbor, Delta State. He was born nine years before Nigeria finally got her independence and free from British colonial rule. He is among other illustrious Nigerians that were born before the Independence and once governed under British leadership. He left Nigeria early to pursue his education which enabled him to gain foresight and a strategic innovator.


He is very passionate about education especially on field of studies that exposes him into business, wealth creation and gaining leadership prowess. It contributed to his dedication and zeal to further his studies after his high school education.

After his high school education, he proceeded to the Southern University Baton Rouge Louisiana in United States of America (USA) where studied Business Administration and gained his bachelor degree in the year 1977. When he secured his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, his desire for further studies propelled him to attend another University in the United States to certify him a master in his course of interest.

Jim is very passionate of education and his story is not the type of someone interested in business but lacked the means to attend a traditional school. He knew his dream but to him, education is important and it made him to enroll into the University of Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana United States of America where he bagged a master degree in business administration in the year 1979.

As a man that believes that knowledge is a continuous process, he still went further to attend Harvard Business School where he participated actively in executive programs.

Business Career

Jim started Zenith Bank Plc in the 90s after his return to his home country Nigeria. He was able to assemble credible team and partners that helped him to build Zenith Bank Plc as a notable tier-1 bank in Nigeria with branches in many countries of the world.

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He deployed his knowledge gathered in his educational pursuit and combined it with his entrepreneurial skills to sharpen himself as a game changer in banking industry which he achieved with laudable accolades.

In Nigeria, there are many Zenith Bank branches in states, cities and communities which are all evidence of his guts in daring to make a difference in financial sector. He started Zenith Bank with a small working capital and grew the bank into a formidable tier-1 bank in Africa.

As at the time he started, he did not posses enormous working capital but he made use of his available resources judiciously. He nurtured and developed his dreams using the power of execution. Jim did not just dream to build a high ranking bank in Nigeria, he did not listen to naysayers and went ahead to execute, made mistakes fast and corrected them to serve the general public better in line with the revolution he brought to banking industry. As the founder of Zenith Bank Plc, he led the bank for many years in overseeing the day to day operational activities until he moved over to assume the Chairmanship position of the Bank Board of Directors.

The bank he founded has produced many notable politicians who have worked in the bank for several years before joining politics. Examples of people that served or serving in public offices that worked in Zenith Bank Plc in the past are: Senator Kashim Shettima (Vice President of Nigeria since May 29th 2023), Alex Otti (Governor of Abia State since 29th May 2023), Dr Uche Sampson Ogar (Former Minister of Mine and Steel), Godwin Emefiele ( the longest serving Governor Central Bank of Nigeria before his suspension in 2023),Udom Gabriel Emmanuel (Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State 2015- 2023) and host others. His business empire has produced notable leaders who passed through his mentorship and understood the nitty gritty of finance as a relevant tool in private and public enterprises.

Aside Zenith Bank Plc where he serves as the Chairman of the bank, he has other businesses where he holds executive chair position. He founded some of the companies and they are: Visafone Communications Limited, Cyberspace Network Limited and host others.

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He is also the chairman of the Nigerian Software Development Initiative and National Information Technology Advisory Council (NITAC)


He is the founder of Jim Ovia Foundation which he founded to contribute hugely in providing scholarship to deserving people who need to be encouraged to pursue their educational dreams without background constraints. He also uses the foundation to skill up the youths in areas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).  He is also known for his other philanthropic gestures in Mankind United to Support Total Education (MUSTE) and his laudable leadership as president of Nigeria Internet Group which are all part of his mission or way of giving back to the society that has offered him numerous opportunities. He has used his foundations to contribute in shaping the lives of the youths in matters that concern education, skill and ensuring that he touches lives through positive impacts using socioeconomics programs and advocacy.


Jim wrote an inspiring and motivating book titled “Africa Rise and Shine”. The book has the caption of how a Nigerian Entrepreneur from humble beginning grew a business to $16 billion


University of Lagos (UNILAG) during her 50th Convocation Ceremony awarded Jim a honorary doctorate degree alongside other notable Nigerians like the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire Ministry Dr. Daniel Olukoya and  Alhaji Olufemi Okunnu,Former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing.

The government of the former President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari conferred on him Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) which is a national award given to deserving citizens that have demonstrated uncommon prowess in private or public sectors.

Social Media

Jim is not very active on social media like some notable leaders in his line of business but his company and Not for Profit Organizations are very active on social media which are testimonies of his proper business structure.

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