African Millionaire Jim Ovia

Jim Ovia

Zenith Bank

Estimated Net Worth: $2.3 billion

Jim Ovia founded Zenith Bank in 1990 and continues to shape the bank in his own image. Under his stewardship Zenith survived the crash of the mid-1990s when Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s then military ruler, closed down foreign exchange dealing loopholes and forced many unsound banks out of business.

Uncluttered by the bureaucracy of established rivals, Jim Ovia set about an aggressive programme of building up accounts with government agencies and the private sector with a dynamic team of young professionals that quickly established a market presence.

Ovia looked to strengthen his relationship with government after the restoration of civilian rule in 1999 and became close to the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo. As with other oligarchs, he raised substantial funds for Obasanjo’s re-election campaign in 2003 and went on to become a trustee of the Obasanjo presidential library and a director of the controversial Transcorp.

Ovia was one of many oligarchs to jump from the board of Transcorp in 2006 when the company, conceived as a Korean-style conglomerate that could compete in a range of industries, became mired in messy controversies.

According to Encomium magazine, Jim Ovia’s net worth is $2.3 billion.

Jim Ovia got his MBA from the University of Louisiana, Louisiana, USA in 1979 and a B. Sc degree in Business Administration from Southern University, Louisiana, USA in 1977. Jim Ovia is also an Alumnus of the Harvard Business School’s Executive Management Program.

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 He has authored several published and unpublished works and he is in the vanguard of promotion and propagation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria.