Jim Ovia, CFR


Jim Ovia is the founder and chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, one of Africa’s largest banks with over $24 billion in assets and shareholders’ funds of over US$3 billion as of June 2022. Zenith Bank is a global brand listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In addition to major operations in Nigeria and other West African countries, the Bank has sizeable operations in London and Dubai.

Jim Ovia is the founder and chancellor of James Hope University Lekki, Lagos, which was recently approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to offer postgraduate degrees in business courses. James Hope University will commence activities in January 2024.

Through his philanthropy—the Jim Ovia Foundation—he has shown the importance he accords good education. In support of the Nigerian youth, the Jim Ovia Foundation offers scholarships to students in need through the Mankind United to Support Total Education (MUSTE) initiative. Most of the beneficiaries of Jim Ovia Foundation scholarship are now pursuing careers as accountants, business administrators, doctors, engineers, and lawyers, among other professions.

He is the author of Africa Rise and Shine, published by Forbes Books. The biography, which encapsulates Zenith Bank’s meteoric rise, details the secrets of Jim Ovia’s success in doing business in Africa.

Jim Ovia is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School (OPM), University of Louisiana (MBA), and Southern University, Louisiana, (B.Sc. Business Administration).

He is a member of the World Economic Forum Community of Chairpersons as well as a champion of the Forum’s EDISON Alliance.

In recognition of Jim Ovia’s contributions to the country’s economic development, the Federal Government of Nigeria honoured him with Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR in 2022. In May of the same year, the Federal Government also conferred the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) Award on Jim Ovia. He was also conferred with the national awards of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2000 and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2011, both testaments to his visionary leadership and contributions to Nigeria’s financial services sector.