The year was 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence and thousands of educated black Zimbabweans found new opportunities in government and public institutions.
Around the time, Kubi Chaza, an international model, actress and nurse trained in the United Kingdom, had just returned home to Zimbabwe.
The opportunities in her country did not challenge Chaza (now Indi) enough, so she chose to defy the odds, deciding to plunge into the hitherto unknown cosmetic industry catering to black-skinned women.
At the time, there were only beauty products for the white-skinned.
Before returning to Zimbabwe and becoming known in her country as a businesswoman, Chaza had trained as a nurse in Scotland, worked as a model in London and even appeared in a James Bond film.
“I was tall and decided to take up modeling at the London Academy,” she recalls. Soon after, she found herself traveling to Europe for assignments.
Her modeling work soon caught the attention of film producers and her career took a critical turn. She became an actress, working with Hollywood legend Roger Moore in the 1973 Bond film Live And Let Live (in which she plays a saleswoman).
Chaza later married John Indi, a film producer and actor, who has played a part in films Mandela (1987) and A Far Off Place (1993). In 1981, the couple decided to return to Zimbabwe.
It was not a bad decision as soon, Chaza established a hair salon at Machipisa, a teeming shopping center in the bustling suburb of Highfield in Harare.
“That is when I discovered there were no cosmetics that catered for black people, especially women. There was a huge demand for cosmetics for black women, [but] none were available,” says Chaza.
Noticing a gap in the market, she grabbed the opportunity and established an eponymous beauty business.
“At first it was not easy as some people felt that the name Kubi was not marketable for cosmetic products,” recalls Chaza.
Despite the discouraging remarks, she was determined and soon was able to build the House of Kubi into a renowned brand.
With a factory in the industrial area of Msasa, Harare, the House of Kubi produces popular products to redefine the beauty of the African woman.
However, like most companies in Zimbabwe, Kubi was not spared by the economic downturn. The operating environment for most companies has made profit margins smaller and recapitalization has become a major challenge.
The House of Kubi has been affected by the influx of cheaper products in the market. Most of these cosmetics are skin lighteners, harmful to the user and sold illegally on the black market.
To cushion her brand from this harsh environment, Chaza has now expanded her business to South Africa, where the cosmetics are manufactured and distributed.
Despite her busy schedule, she is also the patron of the Our Children Our Future Trust (OCOFT), an organization that assists children whose parents are serving time in prison. Through Chaza, OCOFT is planning to establish a center where these children are trained various life skills whilst their parents also benefit from the program once released from prison.
Chaza and her husband now spend most of their time traveling between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The enterprising businesswoman continues to have a lot of passion for the film industry; she is a member of the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe.
It’s not time yet for Chaza to say