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  • DIN Resource Centre

Book review: Africa Rise and Shine


This book is intended to demonstrate that the future can hold almost anything that a well-educated and hardworking African can desire. .... Jim Ovia

Africa Rise and Shine, the autobiography of Jim Ovia, the founder of one of Nigeria's largest and most successful financial institutions, Zenith Bank Plc, documents his experiences and lessons learnt in establishing and growing successful businesses in sectors ranging from banking and insurance to property development and ICT.

For a 30-chapter book, it is highly readable and engaging with the author enumerating in Chapter One his 12 principles or ingredients for business success.

What clearly shines through is Jim Ovia's boundless confidence in the massive potentials of Nigeria and indeed Africa as a whole. His optimism is infectious but he is also a pragmatist who intends that this book should serve as a clarion call for entrepreneurs and investors within and outside Nigeria, in his own words, to find the asset or opportunity in adversity and follow their instincts.

Unsurprisingly, a substantial part of the book is taken up by his inspiring account of the modest beginings and upwards trajectory of the financial services behemoth, Zenith Bank Plc.

This is a testament to Jim Ovia's drive and ambition to excel and it also demonstrates why sound corporate governance is crucial to business sustainability. In this regard, the narration in Chapter 19 of how Zenith Bank Plc was able to emerge unscathed from the banking crisis that rocked Nigeria from 2008 onwards is highly instructive.

Jim Ovia's unwavering values and vision has driven his business successes and is mirrored in his philantropic endeavours through the Jim Ovia Foundation and the James Hope College. It was Micheal Bloomberg, the former Mayor of New York City, billionaire and renowned philantropist who stated that although philantropy cannot replace action by governments, it can spur progress from the bottom up and help in gettings things done.

This is an apt description of the driving force for Jim Ovia's personal philantropy in the light of Nigeria's high juvenile population and inadequate social provisions in the fields of health and education.

In summary, Africa Rise and Shine is a worthy contribution to the growing body of compelling literature on entrepreneurship and philantropy in Nigeria although it would also have been useful to have a more rounded account of the man behind the public persona particularly in relation to early formative influences and key personal relationships.

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