Inside the business of PrayerBox with Bambo Oyelaja

January 26, 2015
6 min read

Don’t want to be alone on the narrow path to a state of grace? Well, there’s an app for that. Prayerbox is an online platform that lets you share prayer points and testimonies with friends, family and religious communities; and claims to have made US$11,000 in revenue even prior to launch.

The platform is not at all complicated; all you have to do is sign up and post your prayers. Your prayers then, of course, go to heaven, and to PrayerBox’s servers, as well, which turn them into a prayer feed that you and the people that follow you/you follow can view. If you’re viewing someone’s prayer feed, you can like a particular prayer, pray for them or just say Amen.

And because, what’s an app without a social feature, the website also allows you connect with other “prayer warriors”, search for prayer points, people or churches.


In this interview with Bambo Oyelaja, the CEO of PrayerBox, attempts to get answers to some of the more business-y questions about the startup:

TP: Tell us about PrayerBox?

OO: PrayerBox is a very simple way to share prayer points, testimonies with your friends, family and religious communities. Furthermore allowing you to stay connected religiously even when you are not in church.

TP: What led to the establishment of this startup?

OO: I had missed church services due to my habit of working late into the night writing code on my computer. And on Saturdays, I would go to bed as late as 5a.m and would wake to find out I had missed church. I thought to myself that there could be a way to catch up or better yet connect with my church when I miss services. So I spent the next weekend writing what would be the first version of Also I had seen a trend of people sharing prayers on social networks which came in the wrong context because these platforms were not built for religion.

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TP: How has the traction been? Number of users, and prayers?

OO: Over 35,000 users in a month. More than 50,000 prayers and an overwhelming flow of daily usage and activity. Such as Amens said to prayers, page views, profile views, private prayers, user connections and much more.

TP: How has been instrumental in the growth of the company?

OO: They were very helpful with seed funding, mentoring and most importantly connecting us to industry leaders and potential partnerships. This can't be valued. 440ng will always be the core reason why PrayerBox has come this far.

TP: What business model are you currently working with?

OO: Relevant and targeted advertising, we're releasing our tithes and offerings platform very soon which is also a revenue channel for us. We're confident in this model. We made $11,000 profit even before we launched the product.

$11,000 is a very impressive profit margin before launch, don’t you think so?

TP: What do you feel about taxing tithes/offering as a business model?

OO: I'm aware of reservations as regards this business model we have included. But the reception from churches and people seeking partnerships has been overwhelming. We believe we can simply the way churches collect tithes making it easier for the users and churches. It's instant and faster. No queues or baskets being passed around and no one has to wait to count all the cash in so many denominations and then one other person gets to deposit at the bank. Some problems don't exist or seem obvious until there is a solution and this is one of them.

TP: What's broken about the way tithe/offering is being paid now? What do you hope to improve upon?

OO: It is tedious on both ends. Church members sometimes have to queue to pay their offerings and tithes. The churches are overwhelmed by the reconciliation process. Counting cash is tedious and worse when the cash in in so many multiple denominations. Cash is sometimes lost and unaccounted for. PrayerBox has created a solution to this problem. Nigeria is going cashless and a lot of industries have embraced this development but not the churches. We are changing this. With our solution, everything is automated and churches have in depth analysis to their financial information. Most importantly the platform handles this with industry standard security measures.

TP: How will you beat POS's and Tithe/offering cards; Like those employed by big churches like Living Faith?

OO: This is simple; paying with cards still requires effort on both ends. Churches have to acquire and maintain several POS machines; users have to queue to swipe their cards. How can a church really address a congregation of 5000 people with POS systems? And some churches have way more than this number. We're helping churches cut costs and reduce stress.

TP: Why should a church trust you as the middle man between their congregations tithes/offering, if you do go the tithe way?

OO: Trust is definitely an issue. We're working on partnerships with Paga and Diamond bank. The money does not come to us, but directly to the accounts of the churches. So we have nothing to do with the money, we're only creating an avenue to make the process simpler. This question pops up a lot and recently I was asked the same question at City FM 105.1 FM. It's important the public knows this.


TP: How will you integrate prayer on tithe/offering culture being employed in churches currently?

OO: Fantastic question! I've been asked this a few times too. We've built a dashboard for churches to view payment activity. A church can easily send mass or individual blessings and prayer points to members of the congregation who have made payments. Our solution is way more personal and convenient.

TP: Why would I want to share my prayers with a community bigger than my house fellowship? Especially when they are private prayers?

OO: Well PrayerBox allows you choose who sees your prayer points and you can decide to make certain prayers private by directing them to your pastors only. We're very keen on privacy and for this reason we have made sure we implement the best privacy tools for the convenience of our users.


TP: How will you prevent trolling on your platform, especially since testimonies and prayers are not 1s and 0s?

OO: We prevent trolling and abuse pragmatically. We've built tools to handle this and further more we check physically to make sure the content on the platform is safe for the community. We do not support racists or abusive comment and at the same time do not limit the usage of the platform. For example swear words are automatically eliminated from prayers.

TP: What do you say about preaching that talks about safeguarding issues and prayers to yourself?

OO: The bible says that where two or more are gathered in my name, I will be there.

TP: Are you already partnered up with churches?

Yes, we already are.

OO: What is the next step for PrayerBox?

Expansion! We're taking PrayerBox everywhere. More users, more partnerships and our engineers are working on building a better PrayerBox.

We hope we asked all the questions you would! Prayerbox is backed by Right now, it’s all about Christianity on PrayerBox, but not only Christians pray, so fingers crossed on how many faiths Prayerbox intends to support going forward.

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