Roho, Swahili for spirits, is where believers have an opportunity to watch sermons on purpose, faith, relationship, fear, health, prayer and more.
The brainchild of Rev. Nicholas Richards, a minister, social justice advocate, international leader and social entrepreneur, Roho was “built from scratch.”
“I watched a sermon on YouTube at the end of 2014 and mid-sermon, a Jack Daniels commercial appeared. I had a problem with it,” says Richards. It’s when he realized, “there was no space for really great Black religious content.”
“I resigned from the church and used my savings,” starts Richards, who has served at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in several capacities, starting as a youth minister and currently serving as assistant minister.
“The church has been really supportive in this transition and move. Some of my first investors are church members. I started to speak with preachers across the county and learned they were placing their sermons on YouTube and weren’t getting anything from it.”
By mid-2015, Richards started the company and since has recruited almost half of the Black mega-churches including bishops Noel Jones and T.D. Jakes and pastors Otis Moss and Jamal Bryant.
“We have a quarter million returning users per month. Our average user watches 17 minutes of content every single day. We have raised two rounds of funding. We just finished an accelerator in Silicon Valley called 500 Startups,” he shares.
During his tenure at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, he founded the Abyssinian Fund, an NGO that provides training and capital market access for Ethiopian coffee farmers. Abyssinian Fund is the first Ethiopian NGO to be started by an African American church and has provided $1 million for farmer training and equipment, reaching over 5,000 Ethiopian farmers and residents. As an economic extension of the Fund, the farmers’ coffee will be sold in grocery stores across New York later this year.
“We started ROHO because we wanted to make a stage for people to get high-quality religious content that addresses what they’ve gone through. We curate content around issues people face on demand.”
Richards is an alumnus of Morehouse College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and philosophy, as well as a certificate in international human rights from The University of Cape Town. In 2009, Richards received his Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary.
ROHO recently launched a blog that profiles prominent church leaders, news, Christian life issues and tips for putting faith into action.