62b2a9_f2f1eb87662a88b43a5eac08ee331ec5In the cause for the development of Africa, a collective effort is neccessary ?to ensure the advancement of the continent. Amidst these collective efforts, we find certain contributors whose efforts have come as an extraordinary boost to the continent. Among these is the prominent African businessman?Jim Ovia. Ovia founded Zenith Bank in Nigeria over 20 years ago, and has since transformed it from an ordinary run-of-the-mill bank into the second largest financial services provider in West Africa. According to Zenith Bank?s official website, Zenith Bank Plc, is ?a leader in financial services, with headquarters in Nigeria, and subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and South Africa.? This worldwide reach is bringing global contributions and investments into the Nigerian financial markets.

Ovia?s achievements have helped propel the African continent, but this is not to say that there was no personal fortune to be made. According to Forbes, Ovia was the 19th?richest African as of November 2012. Ventures-Africa.com reports that Ovia has since continue to climb the ranks, and he peaked at over 1 billion dollars as of February 2013.

So how did he do it? Ovia got his start with an educational background. He received his bachelors of Business administration from Southern University, Louisiana, and followed that up with an MBA from Northeast Louisiana University. ?After that, Ovia built his wealth in banking and real estate. He started as a regular entry level bank employee and climbed the ranks until he garnered enough experience to leave and found his own bank. He is reported to own and develop several properties in prime areas of Lagos.

Although Ovia stepped down as CEO of Zenith Bank in 2009, he remains its founder and largest shareholder. A visit to the banks website shows a plethora of services being offered including credit cards and debit cards run on the MasterCard and Visa branded networks, ATM services, electronic payments and mobile services. While these services are not new in the global marketplace, they are pioneering in the West African market.

Although Ovia has achieved a lot by his entrepreneurship, he achieved true greatness through his philanthropic activities. He has contributed to the betterment of the African continent by founding the Youth Empowerment and ICT Foundation. According to the organizations website, their vision is to ?promote quality education,? ?advocate for ICT in education policy in Nigeria,? and to ?unlock the Nigerian Youth?s untapped Potential and resource.? Ovia also donates financial sums to the victims of natural disasters. A well rounded achiever who is culturally aware and gives back to society is an asset to Africa.

Jim Ovia has indeed reached the zenith.