Crimson Capital Senior Staff and Consultants Profiles

Michael Gold
Managing Director, Crimson Capital

Michael Gold is a seasoned investment and commercial banker and management consultant with over 39 years of experience, the last 24 years of which have been resident in the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the former Soviet Union. His specializations include increasing access to finance, competitiveness, privatization, foreign direct investment, trade, SME development, and legal and regulatory reform. As Managing Director of Crimson Capital, Mr. Gold oversees all of Crimson’s international development work, including a portfolio of 18 current projects and 5 master contracts on four continents.

Mr. Gold has developed and implemented programs in numerous countries including Uganda, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Armenia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Kosovo, Peru, El Salvador and Bolivia, and has pioneered the introduction and expansion of Purchase Order Finance (POF) in developing countries. His career highlights include managing the Macedonia Business Resource Center (MBRC) which helped hundreds of SMEs become more competitive and generated over $95 million in new trade and investment; establishing the Macedonia SME Commercial Finance Fund and the Crimson Finance Fund in Kosovo, both of which utilize POF to help SMEs dramatically increase sales, profits, employment and exports; advising the Czech government on privatization and enterprise restructuring, resulting in the successful privatization of over 200 major companies and over $6 billion in foreign direct investment; and helping the government of Macedonia secure a regional record price of 225 million EUR for the privatization of the national electricity distribution company, along with an investment commitment of 96 million EUR.

Mr. Gold has achieved over $7 billion USD in debt and equity financing, foreign direct investment, and export transactions in developing and emerging countries. He was worked closely with banks, central banks, investment funds and MFIs in the US and throughout the developing world. Mr. Gold holds an Executive Management degree from UCLA, and a B.A. in biochemistry and physiology from Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

Mart Bakal
Founder, Owner and Chairman of Crimson Capital Group.

Mart Bakal was a Faculty member at Harvard Business School and a Partner at Drexel Burnham Lambert. He has been active in finance, law and investments in US, Canada, Europe and Asia.

In 1991 he started Crimson Capital to participate in opportunities in emerging markets and led the privatization and restructuring of major enterprises and banks in the Czech Republic and Poland. Since then Crimson has been involved in transactions with an asset value of over $18 Billion. Today Bakal lives in Beijing where he focuses on investments in private equity and real estate. He has been a Director of numerous public and private companies and charitable organizations in Canada, United States, Europe, and China.

Korab Ahmetaj
Program Officer - USAID Kosovo Property Governance Activity

Korab Ahmetaj is a GIS and Cadastral Expert with more than 10 years of professional experience. Currently he is a Program Officer on the USAID Kosovo Property Governance Activity (PGA), supporting partnership activities between the central government, local government and private sector to undertake reforms that will facilitate citizen’s access to cadastral data, increase formal property rights, improve municipal capacities for property management, improve processes and practices for building inspections and support women’s empowerment.

Prior to joining PGA, Korab worked as acting Director of the Immovable Property Rights Register Directorate and Geo-information Directorate in the Kosova Cadastral Agency. Korab holds Master of Science degree in Geodesy, from the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Polytechnic University of Tirana in Albania. He also holds Master of Arts degree on Law and Management of Real Estate and Infrastructure from the European School of Law and Governance in Kosovo. In addition to his native Albanian, he speaks English.

Sahel Philip Annabi
Financial Product Design & Development Expert

Sahel Philip Annabi is the Financial Product Design & Development Team Leader on the USAID-funded Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan (FAIDA) project and is responsible for building the capacity of FAIDA’s financial institution partners in MSME lending.

Mr. Annabi is a banking and finance expert with almost 20 years of experience in the Middle East Region. Prior to joining Crimson, he worked as a senior consultant, advising banks and financial institutions in Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Yemen. Through this consulting work, he contributed to a number of significant achievements, including introducing the Islamic-finance window concept which was implemented in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates; organizational restructuring of the biggest two banks in Iraq (Rafidain & Rasheed Banks); and designing and developing the first life planning web-tool to equip young people with financial and career skills. He also founded the first and only financial planning magazine in Jordan. Mr. Annabi has facilitated and participated in numerous conferences and training programs related to financial planning, access to finance, banking management and operations, financial planning, investments, real estate evaluation and credit, marketing and development of financial services. He has also worked for a number of International Financial Institutions including HSBC, Arab Bank, ABC Banking Corporation and the Egyptian Arab Land Bank. Mr. Annabi holds an MSc. in International Securities, Investment & Banking from ICMA Centre / The University of Reading – UK, as well as the Financial Advisor International Qualification from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) - UK. He speaks fluent Arabic and English.

Darko Arsov
Project Manager, Crimson Capital

Darko Arsov is a Project Manager at Crimson Capital. He has more than five years of experience managing large-scale, business and strategy development projects, for both the private sector and on international development projects. Prior to joining Crimson, Mr. Arsov was e-Commerce Manager, at ITpreneurs, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where he was responsible for development of e-commerce activities, including client networking, business development and marketing. He has also freelanced as a Market Research Analyst in Macedonia for a global market intelligence company, where he conducted extensive analyses of the Macedonian business sector and numerous industries. Between 2003 and 2007, Mr. Arsov worked as Technology Integration Manager for e-Schools, a USAID/Macedonia funded activity. He was responsible for designing and implementing nationwide campaign to modernize education, and developing vast ICT infrastructure in all public schools in Macedonia.

Mr. Arsov holds a BBA in Management Information System from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, and an MBA in Strategy Management from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. He is fluent in Macedonian, English and Serbian.

Lindita Bucinca
Office Manager, Crimson Finance Fund LLC, Kosovo

Ms. Bucinca is the Office Manager for the Crimson Finance Fund in Kosovo. Prior to joining Crimson, she worked as the Head of Administration for the EU Customs and Fiscal Assistance Office to UNMIK, where she was responsible for implementing and applying administrative policies and procedures and for management of the office’s operational activities, including budget preparation, tracking and reporting and liaising with financial and project managers in the European Commission DG Enlargement Team in Brussels. She also worked as a Senior Human Resources Officer for the Privatization Agency of Kosovo.

Ms. Bucinca holds a bachelor's degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the ILIRIA University in Prishtina, and is also currently attended training and seminars in Business Management and Human Resources Management. In addition to her native Albanian, she is fluent in English and Serbian.

Artur Bulat
Energy Finance & Investment Lead - USAID Moldova Energy Security Activity

Artur Bulat is the Energy Finance & Investment Lead on the USAID Moldova Energy Security Activity (MESA), responsible for supporting increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy and for assisting project beneficiaries in sourcing and structuring financing for energy projects.

Artur has more than 15 years of experience in banking and financing, the last five of which have focused on energy and climate finance specifically. He began his career as a credit expert for business finance at ProCredit Bank in Moldova. More recently, he has been engaged in various consulting assignments including: assisting Liberty Bank (Georgia) in automation of bank processes; advising OEB on restructuring the bank’s SME operations in Moldova; and supporting the EBRD Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF) partner financial institution Moldova Agroindbank (MAIB) in effective utilization of their GEFF credit line. Artur has a bachelor’s degree in economics. In addition to Romanian and Russian, he speaks English.

Richard P. Currie
Senior Finance and Banking Expert

Richard Currie is Crimson Capital’s Senior Banking and Finance Director and a board member of the Crimson SME Finance Fund in Macedonia. He is a leading expert in Purchase Order Finance and other asset-based and trade finance products and has over 30 years of experience providing commercial banking and access to finance advisory services in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the U.S He has worked to successfully design and launch new SME debt products to the market, including POF, and has provided technical assistance and training in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kosovo, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Georgia, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Macedonia and Uganda. To date, these initiatives have opened up over $60 million USD in direct financing to SMEs, resulting in more than $120 million in sales and exports and created several thousands of jobs.

Mr. Currie holds a Master’s degree in Asian Studies from Indiana University, and completed the Chase Manhattan Bank Credit Training Program. Mr. Currie is fluent in Chinese and Mongolian, and speaks Russian at an intermediate level. Prior to joining Crimson, Mr. Currie was Vice President of Middle Market Lending for Barclays Bank plc., Assistant Vice President for Credit Suisse, and Assistant Treasurer of US Trust Company, where he has managed loan and investment portfolios in total of around $500 million USD.

Perunika Damjanovska
Office and Administrative Manager - Skopje, Macedonia

Ms. Damjanovska has managed Crimson Capital’s offices in Skopje since 1996, where she is responsible for all administration, accounting, and reporting. She is also in charge of communicating with Crimson’s Prague and US offices and developing business opportunities in the Balkans. Ms. Damjanovska joined Crimson’s team on the Macedonian Business Resource Center(MBRC) Project, where she coordinated administrative and office management tasks for this large scale, USAID-funded project for several years.

At present, Ms. Damjanovska manages the administrative aspects of Crimson Capital’s SME Commercial Finance Fund in Macedonia as well as other Macedonian activities. She has completed several intensive training programs for project management, financial reporting, budgeting and human resources and has extensive experience in all USAID and EU requirements and procedures. Ms. Damjanovska has a B.S. in Biochemistry and Physiology from Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje and is fluent in Macedonian and English, as well as some Italian and German.

Vjollca Dibra
Administration/Database Officer, Crimson Finance Fund L.L.C., Kosovo

Ms. Vjollca Dibra is an Administration/Database Officer at Crimson Finance Fund (CFF) in Kosovo. Prior to joining CFF, she worked as a Project Officer for SPARK supporting improved registration services and cataloguing of students files at the University of Pristina. She also worked as a Call Center Operator at Kosovo Energy Corporation J.S.C. (KEC). Ms. Dibra holds a Bachelor degree in Economics, Management and Informatics from the University of Pristina. In addition to her native Albanian, she speaks English and Turkish.

Alena Dickmann
Office and Administrative Manager - Prague, Czech Republic

Ms. Dickmann has managed Crimson Capital’s Prague offices since 1998. She is responsible for all office operations, staff, accounting, and oversight. She coordinates Crimson’s activities across its disparate branches, including issues relating to registration, legal matters and contracts with partners as well as administration of financial transactions on a number of Crimson's donor-funded projects. Ms. Dickmann also supports Crimson's global recruiting efforts and the administration of Crimson's IT system.

Prior to joining Crimson, Ms. Dickmann worked as an Import and Sales Manager for Daewoo Corporation, facilitating imports of diverse products into the Czech market during the initial transition to a market economy. From 1998-2004, she supported the management of daily operations for the Herold Brewery, including coordinating export orders and developing new sales opportunities. In addition to her native Slovak, Ms. Dickmann is fluent in Czech and English and speaks some Russian and Dutch.

Edisa Gjevori
Program Assistant, Crimson Capital

Ms. Edisa Gjevori has extensive experience in business lending and project management. Prior to joining Crimson Capital, she worked as a Business Loan Officer at ProCredit Bank in Kosovo, where she managed and monitored client loans and developed extensive working relationships with the Pristina business community. Prior to this, Ms. Gjevori worked in administration, finance, and languages. She holds a degree in Banking and Finance issued by the Royal University Iliria and certificates in Client Management, Strategic Planning, Sales, Finance Management and Project Management issued by the University of Business and Technology (UBT) in Kosovo. In addition to her native Albanian language, she speaks fluent Serbo-Croatian and English, and Italian at an intermediate level.

Robin Howell
Director - Finance & Operations

Robin Howell is one of the founders of Crimson Capital and has overseen all financial and administrative matters for the company since 1991. She enjoys more than 28 years of professional expertise in financial analysis and management, human resource administration, and corporate governance. Ms. Howell has been instrumental in facilitating Crimson Capital’s global portfolio expansion.

Ms. Howell previously served as Director of Operations for Tigera Group (formerly Fortune Computer), a publicly traded company. Ms. Howell is active in a variety of civic and charitable organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the National Rifle Association; and serves on the Board of Directors of Cumberland Academy of Georgia. Ms. Howell is also a member of the prestigious Business Executives for National Security (“BENS”). Ms. Howell holds a B.S. in Business and Accounting from University of South Carolina.

Pleurat Hundozi
Director – Business Development, Crimson Capital

Pleurat Hundozi is an experienced economist with substantial practice in a wide range of areas including SME development, FDI, finance, trade, workforce development and business reform. Throughout his career, he has worked for a number of private companies and donors in various positions. Most recently, he held a post with the European Agency for Reconstruction in Kosovo, where he managed a portfolio of Economic Development projects in a total value of more than €45 million. Currently, Mr. Hundozi is the Director of Business Development of Crimson Capital, where his responsibilities include business development and project management. He has an academic background from Kosovo, Germany, the UK and Greece and holds a BA in Management and Informatics from Prishtina University and a MBA degree from Sheffield University. In addition to his native Albanian, Mr. Hundozi speaks English, German and a number of Slavic languages.

Vladimir Jovanovic
Access to Finance Lead - USAID Serbia Mediji.inovacije Project

Vladimir Jovanovic is the Access to Finance Lead on the USAID-funded Mediji.inovacije Project in Serbia, where he supports project beneficiaries (media and media-adjacent companies) in improving financial management skills and accessing financing for business growth.

Prior to joining Crimson, Vladimir worked for Erste Bank Serbia as the Head of the Social Banking Unit. Earlier in his career, he was engaged on the USAID Business Enabling Project in Serbia, supporting the Access to Finance Component, where he focused on improving access to finance for micro, small and medium enterprises in Serbia. Vladimir also has previous experience working for the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and in the corporate banking sector. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Management, and in addition to his native Serbian, he speaks English and German.

Donika Macastena
Private Sector Engagement Manager – USAID Kosovo Private Sector-Led Workforce Development Activity

Donika Macastena is Private Sector Engagement Manager and also serves as Component 1 Lead within the USAID Kosovo Private Sector-Led Workforce Development Activity (PSWD). She manages collaboration with the private sector to identify workforce demand and skills needed. Prior to this, she was Program Officer for the Business Links and Work Experience Component of USAID’s After School Support for Teens Program (ASSET). Her work on ASSET focused on connecting schools with employers and the community, supporting students develop workforce-related skills through projects and internships.

Before joining Crimson, Ms. Macastena worked for the ‘Broadening Horizons’ project at Kingston University London, where she conducted market research for a London-based start-up company. Ms. Macastena holds a Master’s Degree in International Business Management from Kingston University, United Kingdom; and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Statistics and Management from Rochester Institute of Technology in Kosovo. In addition to her native Albanian, she is also fluent in English.

Gegë Markaj
Accounting Manager, Crimson Finance Fund L.L.C, Kosovo

Gege Markaj is a certified accountant with more than eight years experience in finance and accounting. He began his career in 2003 as a Finance Officer at the OSCE Kosovo Judicial Institute. He has also worked as an accountant and tax adviser for several companies and as a private consultant.

Mr. Markaj has a degree in finance and banking from the University of Pristina and received his accreditation as a certified accountant from the Society of Certified Accountants and Auditors of Kosovo in 2008. In addition to his native Albanian, he speaks fluent English.

Liza  Marku
Deputy Chief of Party - Kosovo Private Sector-Led Workforce Development Activity

Liza Marku is Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID Kosovo Private Sector-Led Workforce Development Activity (PSWD), responsible for supporting all of PSWD workstreams and activities. She is a private sector development expert with over 20 years of experience working across industries in Kosovo, and has held technical roles on several USAID projects in Kosovo, including the Kosovo Business Finance Fund (KBFF), the New Opportunities for Agriculture program (NOA), the EMPOWER Private Sector project and the Workforce Private Sector Lead activity .

Ms. Marku started her career supporting the manufacturing sector of Kosovo following the war, through the KBFF, where she was appointed as a Regional Branch Manager upon the establishment of the American Bank of Kosovo. She successfully established three sub-branches in the Peja region and facilitated foreign direct investment from diaspora in the United States totaling €54 million to support the privatization process. During her engagement with the NOA program, she successfully marketed and launched the sale of new crops, including developing market linkages between wholesale and retail distributors and initiated development of a dedicated financial product for farmers: an “Agro Credit Card” with TEB Bank. While serving as the Job Creation Lead on the USAID-funded EMPOWER Private Sector project, Ms. Marku identified strategic opportunities to create 2,600 new jobs in Kosovo’s energy, ICT, food processing, and manufacturing sectors. She has organized business fairs and attracted foreign investors while ensuring sustainability and local ownership of USAID-funded activities. Ms. Marku’s guidance allowed for the Kosovo Manufacturing Club to take over the Green Festival - which resulted in €2.7 million in sales agreements (just in year 2019) - following the completion of the project. Ms. Marku has also served on the Board of Directors at Banka Ekonomike in Kosovo, and currently is a Board Member of KOSTT (transmission system operator). She regularly serves as an adjunct lecturer on marketing and management at Rochester Institute of Technology in Kosovo.

Lovre Ristevski
Manager, Agricultural Finance and Value Chains - Macedonia

Mr. Lovre Ristevski is a banking and finance expert with more than 13 years of professional experience. Currently, Mr. Ristevski is Crimson’s Banking Relationship Manager in Macedonia for the Western Balkan Sustainable Energy Financing Facility II (WeBSEFF II). WeBSEFF II is a four-year, EBRD and EU-funded, €92 million on-lending facility, designed to support investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy in the Western Balkan region (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia). In tandem, Mr. Ristveski is the Manager of the USAID-funded Crimson Development Foundation’s Innovation Financing Vehicle (CDF-IFV). CDF-IFV is $300,000 fund designed to support innovation in Macedonia through debt financing and quasi-equity investment. Prior to joining Crimson Capital, Mr. Ristevski was a ProCredit Branch Manager for Prilep and Bitola, where he was responsible for overseeing and managing all operations of the branches. During his tenure, he trained more than 100 employees, managed 80% of the bank’s regional loan portfolio, tippled branch loan portfolios and deposits and oversaw the successful opening and start-up of an additional bank branch office in Bitola.

Mr. Ristevski has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Saint Kliment Ohridski University in Bitola and is currently working on a MBA degree at Goce Delcev University. In addition to his native Macedonian, he is fluent in English.

Liridon Shurdhani
Private Sector Engagement Specialist - USAID Kosovo Property Governance Activity

Liridon Shurdhani is a Private Sector Engagement Specialist and also serves as Lead for Objective 3 within the USAID Kosovo Property Governance Activity (PGA). He works on the partnerships between the private sector, local government, and civil society to support reforms that will facilitate citizen’s access to cadastral data, increase formal property rights and support women’s empowerment.

Priori joining PGA, Liridon worked as the Legal Expert for the Kosovo Investment Climate Project, which was funded by the International Financial Cooperation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group. Previously, Liridon has worked for Crimson on USAID funded projects including the Partnerships for Development project (P4D) and the Business Enabling Environment Program (BEEP). Liridon is a lecturer at Riinvest College teaching “IT Law and Ethics”. He graduated Law School at the University of Prishtina and finished his LLM in “Democratic Governance & Rule of Law” at Pettit College of Law at Ohio Northern University, USA. In addition to his native Albanian, he speaks English and some Serbo-Croatian.

Nora Siqeca
Communications and Outreach Specialist - USAID Kosovo Property Governance Activity

Nora Siqeca is the Communications and Outreach Specialist on the USAID Kosovo Property Governance Activity (PGA). She manages all of PGA’s external and internal communications and public relations. Working closely with the local government, civil society, and the private sector, she supports PGA to ensure its impact and messages are passed across various channels reaching the public, media, and other stakeholders.

Prior to joining PGA, Nora worked was the Head of Communications in various USAID supported projects, including the Transparent Effective and Accountable Municipalities, the Empower Credit Support Program, and the Contract Law Enforcement Program. She also was the Membership and Communications Manager at the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, supporting private sector development. Nora holds a Master of Arts degree in European Studies and Public Policy, King’s College, University of London. She also holds a BSc. on Management Development and Public Policy from Rochester Institute of Technology in Kosovo. In addition to her native Albanian, she also speaks fluent English and Turkish.

Sonja Tasevska
Senior Loan Officer, Crimson SME Finance Fund (Crimson Development Foundation) - Macedonia

Mrs. Tasevska has 14 years of experience in the SME sector. Her career began as an employee of the Foundation for SME development, where she subsequently became a business advisor. As business advisor, she was responsible for promotion, training, and consulting of SMEs.

Mrs. Tasevska has worked at the SME Fund as Senior Loan Officer since 2003. She is responsible for promotion of Fund products, analyzing credit applications, preparing proposals, and monitoring and evaluating of delivered loans for SMEs.

Mrs. Tasevska graduated from Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje in 1992 with a BS degree in Economics with a major specialization in Banking. Between 2000 and 2002, she participated in the South Eastern Europe Program and became a Master of Training and Consulting. She is fluent in English and in a few other regional languages.