Jim Ovia Biography, Early Life, Age, Family, Education, Career And Net Worth

Jim Ovia Biography
Jim Ovia is a Nigerian businessman, writer and motivational speaker, popularly known for founding Zenith Bank, one of the biggest banks in Africa.
He is the founder and pioneer Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank PLC. According to the Zenith Bank official website, it is Nigeria’s largest and Africa’s 6th largest bank by Shareholders’ Funds.
Jim Ovia was at the helm of affairs of the bank from inception, for 20 years until his resignation in July 2010. He was reappointed the Chairman of the bank in 2014.
We'd be seeing Jim Ovia's biography, date of birth, age, early life, family, parents, relationship status, education, career, net worth, houses, cars, social media handles and everything else you'd love to know about him.
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Jim Ovia Profile

Before we continue, here's a quick rundown on Jim Ovia's profile and a few things you'd love to know about him:
Full names: Jim Ovia
Date of birth: 4th November 1951
Age: 69 years (2020)
Place of birth: Delta State, Nigeria
Nationality: Nigerian
Education: Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A
Spouse: Kay Ovia
Children: Isioma Ovia, Jesse Ovia
Occupation: Businessman, writer
Net worth: $550 million

Jim Ovia Biography, Date Of Birth, Early Life, Family And Education

Jim Ovia was born on the 4th of November, 1957 as the second son in the family of Obi Olihe of Agbor-Obi. His father was one of the most revered chiefs in Agbor Kingdom, Delta State.
He had his primary education in Delta State, after which he enrolled at the prestigious  Ika Grammar School, Bojiboji-Owa for his secondary education.
Jim Ovia in pursuit of a greener pasture travelled to the United States for his tertiary education. He gained admission to study at the Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, graduating in 1977 with a B.Sc. degree in Business Administration.
He further proceeded to the University of Louisiana, Monroe, Louisiana, the USA for his master's degree in Business Administration in 1979. He is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School.


Jim Ovia, while growing up always pondered about the right career path to choose. According to an online source, he was encouraged by his uncle to study business administration and he obliged.
Jim's first professional career was at Union Bank (formerly Barclays Bank) where he worked as a clerk in 1973. This was shortly after he completed his secondary education and he worked with them for 3 years before moving to the United States.

Sometime along the line, he developed a keen interest in computer science and information technology. This led him into taking up a job as a part-time computer operator at the defunct Baton Rouge Bank and Trust Company.

On returning to Nigeria after his graduation from the higher institution, Jim Ovia joined Union Bank to complete his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). He also worked in Lion Bank where he rose to the post of branch manager in Lagos.

His next move was in 1980 when he joined International Merchant Bank (IMB) as a financial analyst. In no distant time, he was promoted to the position of a bank manager.

On leaving International Merchant Bank (IMB), Jim joined the Merchant Bank of Africa where he set up a thriving corporate division. He also performed very well there.

The Genesis And Success Of Zenith Bank

Jim Ovia, alongside some investors, started Zenith Bank in 1990 following the deregulation of the banking sector during Babangida’s administration in the late 1980s. Under his leadership, Zenith Bank grew into becoming one of the largest financial service providers in Nigeria and Anglophone West Africa. In fact, he helped position the bank as one of the largest and most profitable in Africa.

Zenith Bank is currently ranked 325th in the world (The Banker, Top 1000 World Banks, 2016), with over 300 branches in Nigeria and a strategic international presence in the United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, China, Dubai, Ghana and the Gambia.

Jim resigned in July 2010, after over two decades of being at the helm of affairs of the bank. He is currently the chairman (he was reappointed in 2014) and largest individual shareholder with a stake of slightly more than 9% stake.

Aside from the banking industry, Jim Ovia also has an interest in tech. In 1995, he founded Cyberspace Network Limited to provide various internet services like 4G LTE, CYBER MAX and METRONET.

He also in 2007, founded Visafone Communications Limited, a Nigerian wireless network provider. Visafone was later acquired by MTN for an undisclosed sum in 2015.

Jim Ovia has properties worth billions of Naira in Lagos, including Lagos Marriott Hotel, the Aquamarine Boat Club, and the Civic Towers which has over a 15-storeys.

Jim Ovia is also a public speaker and author. He published his first book, 'Africa: Rise and Shine' in September 2018.

Personal Life

Jim Ovia is happily married to Kay Ovia and they're blessed with two children, Isioma and Jesse Ovia. Kay is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Quantum Markets and initiator of the Star Rising Talent Hunt for children and young people.

Awards and Recognitions

Jim Ovia's numerous contributions to the Nigerian economy has earned him a number of awards and recognition, including:
• Zik Award for professional leadership (April 1999)
• Member Federal Republic (MFR, 2000)
• The Business Day Newspaper award for the top 10 bankers in Nigeria (2002)
• Vanguard Newspaper’s award for 20 most outstanding CEO’s in corporate Nigeria
• ThisDay Newspaper award for Banker of the Year (2007)
• Commander of the Order of Niger (CON, 2011)
• In 2005, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Finance by the Lagos State University (LASU)
• In 2017, he was  awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN)
• AAI 2017 Business Leadership Award by The Africa-America Institute, New York
• He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School (OPM)

Jim Ovia Net Worth

Jim Ovia is among the first ten richest bankers in Nigeria. He is the founder and Zenith Bank and also the largest individual shareholder of the bank. He has assets worth billions of Naira in different parts of the country, including Lagos Marriott Hotel, the Aquamarine Boat Club, and the Civic Towers which has over a 15-storeys.
According to Forbes, Jim Ovia has an estimated net worth of $550 million.

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Before you leave, also check out our next article on the biography and net worth of Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
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