Zar Wardak is FINCA Impact Finance’s Vice President & Regional Director for the Middle East & South Asia (MESA) region, where she leads the network’s operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Jordan. Based in Kabul, she oversees a loan portfolio of more than $170 million, providing more than 660,000 clients with loans, savings products, insurance and payments services.
Under Zar’s leadership, FINCA’s operations in the MESA region have expanded to cover two full-service microfinance institutions and one bank, each of which now has more than 25,000 clients. FINCA Impact Finance has also become a catalyst for women’s economic empowerment in the MESA region—61% of FINCA Afghanistan clients are women; in Jordan, that number is 92%. Most recently, Zar helped introduce SimSim, an e-wallet now being used by over 100,000 previously unbanked or underbanked users in Pakistan. SimSim launched in 2016 and has contributed to financial inclusion in Pakistan while keeping FINCA at the forefront of Fintech innovation.
Prior to becoming Regional Director in 2012, Zar served as CEO of FINCA Afghanistan. Under her leadership, the company was able to achieve sustainability within three years. She implemented profitable microfinance solutions designed for local conditions—notably, FINCA Afghanistan was the first microfinance institution in the country to offer Islamic banking services. FINCA Afghanistan now serves more than 25,000 clients from 21 branches across the country, largely due to Zar’s successful stint as CEO.
Prior to joining FINCA, Zar worked as a financial services industry consultant in Afghanistan and served as Regional Sales Integration Director for Citibank in Texas before that. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Business from Southwestern College in Kansas and a Master of Science in Peace Operations from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
In addition to serving as Chair of the Board for FINCA Kosovo, Zar serves as Chair of the Afghanistan Microfinance Association and Chair of the Board for FINCA Impact Finance’s MESA subsidiaries.
Volker Renner has over 20 years of senior management experience in microfinance in four continents. From 2004 to 2016 he served FINCA International as Vice President for Credit and Savings, Global COO and Regional Director for FINCA Eurasia. Prior to joining FINCA Volker held positions as CEO of ProCredit Bank (Ukraine) and advisor to banks in Russia and Ukraine. Volker has served as board chairman, board member and audit committee member in numerous microfinance institutions and banks.
Safiye is a senior international banker with vast experience across many banking functions, geographies and client segments. Over the last 20 years at Citi she worked as a Senior Investment Banker both in Turkey and in London covering several FTSE 100 multinational corporates and underwriting complex financing transactions. She helped corporate clients to manage their investments and financing needs globally. She has been selected as “Best Banker’ by British American Tobacco.
As Regional Head for Citi’s Internal Audit and Risk Management Group, she was responsible from Europe Middle East and Africa consisting 52 countries. She managed a multi-cultural team which audited and rated Citi corporate credit portfolios across the region. Her expertise in credit risk management has been acknowledged with Senior Credit Officer (SCO) title.
In order to pursue her life-long ambition and commitment for women’s economic empowerment, Safiye joined Citi Microfinance (now known as Citi Inclusive Business) in 2009 as a Global Business Director which is a ‘for profit’ business segment of Citigroup. She has since worked to address issues of access to finance for micro entrepreneurs focusing on building scalable solutions and bringing the capabilities of Citi’s businesses to microfinance institutions, banks and corporate clients that work with unbanked and underserved low income communities. Last two years at Citi Microfinance, she has been working to develop value chain solutions to multinational firms while bridging the gap between large corporates, financial service providers, micro insurance companies and microfinance institutions.
Safiye was part of a team in Citi Microfinance that has developed a Citi-Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) microfinance partnership providing funding to 40 microfinance institutions with outreach to almost 1 million micro-entrepreneurs in 22 countries, approximately 91% of whom are women.
In 2014, she has been awarded ‘Champion for Women Award’ by Women in Banking and Finance UK Network (WIBF) in recognition for her contribution to women in the workplace and women economic empowerment globally. She acted as the Co-chair of Citi Women for two terms during her tenure at Citigroup.
She left Citigroup in October 2014 and now works independently as a Consultant in Banking, Financial inclusion and in microfinance industry and serves as an independent director on multiple boards.
She is a non-executive director at FINCA Microfinance Bank Pakistan since June 2017, FINCA Microfinance Bank Jordan since December 2018 and Board Member at British Chamber of Commerce Turkey since May 2016.
She also sits on the board of non-profit Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (Kadin Emeğini Degerlendirme Vakfi-KEDV) and Maya Microfinance Institution which is the first microfinance institution in Turkey. She has recently joined Oxfam International Supervisory Board.
She has MSc degree in Banking and Finance from Nottingham University and BA in Economics from Boğazici University in Istanbul. She has dual nationality; British and Turkish and lives in Turkey.
Dardane has over 20 years of experience in project management with a track record of leading complex and multimillion-dollar projects in various sectors including financial sector, business enabling environment, private sector development, public financial management, tax policy and administration funded by donor organizations. She has extensive experience working with both the public and private sector. Dardane is skilled in strategic planning, budgeting, financial management, financial reporting and analysis, project design, monitoring and evaluation. She holds a Master’s degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Gloucestershire, UK and is a Fellow Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
Youssef Laban is currently a freelance executive consultant who helps financial institutions and Fin-tech start-ups streamline their operational and financial processes.
He is an experienced banker who served for more than 30 years with many international banks in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in senior executive and non-executive positions. His roles included among others Chief Executive Officer of the regional hub of Arab Bank in Dubai, Group Chief Operating Officer of alkaliji bank in Doha, Chief Operating Officer of Banque Saudi Fransi in Riyadh, Information Systems Group Head at Credit Lyonnais in Paris, Head of Retail in La Banque Postale in Paris, Payment Systems department Head at Credit Agricole in Paris.
Mr. Laban executive responsibilities involved Operations, IT, Human Resources, Procurement, Premises, Digital Banking, Retail, Marketing and Strategy.
Youssef Laban holds an engineering diploma from Supelec, Paris and studied at CESB Management – Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de Banque, Paris.
FINCA Kosovo Management Team
Our management team brings vast experience, professional skills and expertise from various industry backgrounds
Ardian Kastrati came to FINCA Kosovo from ProCredit Bank, bringing 18 years of financial experience.
He first began working for ProCredit Bank Kosovo in 2000 as a loan officer, later serving in multiple product and management positions at the company. He was crucial in building ProCredit’s agricultural lending business in Kosovo and served as the Lending Manager for Agricultural and Micro Loans. Ardian served as Branch Manager for Peja region as well as a Credit Division Manager. Later, he served as Manager of the Corporate Banking Division for more than five years, with responsibility for client acquisition, customer service, documentary business, product development, portfolio and deposit performance of the medium-sized and corporate client base. Ardian also served as ProCredit’s Regional Corporate Manager for developing services for medium-sized and corporate clients in Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo.
Ardian graduated from the International Senior Management Program, part of the Executive MBA Program at IEDC – Bled School of Management, Slovenia. He also holds a BA in Management and Economics from Business College (Kolegji i Biznesit) in Prishtina, graduated in Banking and Finance at the ProCredit Bank Academy in in Germany, as well as studied at the branch of Agriculture at the University of Prishtina, Kosovo.
Ardian is fluent in Albanian, English, Serbian and Croatian and also has working knowledge of Russian, Macedonian and Bulgarian.
Mrs. Kotorri – Krasniqi was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer of FINCA Kosovo in May 2020.
Mrs. Kotorri Krasniqi joined FINCA Kosovo in 2013 as Head of the Business Department, becoming Human Resources Manager two years later. In November 2017, Mrs. Kotorii Krasniqi became a Board Member and Chief Operations Officer of FINCA Kosovo.
Her banking sector career began in 1999 at ProCredit Bank Kosovo. Her responsibilities were diverse, including Head of Business Customers Division, Head of the Business Department and Head of the Business Division, among others. She was also the Head of Electronic Banking Business and cards, where she contributed to increasing efficiency via building alternative distribution channels such as an e-banking platform, card business, mobile banking and mobile solutions through SMS services.
Mrs. Kotorri Krasniqi completed her studies in 1999 at the University of Tirana, Albania in the Faculty of Economics and Finance; the diploma is equivalent to a Master’s Degree in Science (MS). She also took part in the banking program at the ProCredit Bank Academy in Frankfurt, and recently was certified with a Post University degree in Digital Business in 2019 by EMERITUS Institute, a collaboration between MIT Executive Education and Columbia Business School.
Fisnik Kepuska joined FINCA in July 2016 as Chief Financial Officer of FINCA Kosovo, later during 2020 he took the position as Chief Operating Officer in FINCA Kosovo. In addition to this, as part of his operational responsibilities on FINCA Impact Finance level, he provides support to the Executive Management teams in FINCA’s subsidiaries of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. He is a Chairman of Audit Committee of FINCA Azerbaijan as well as a member of Board of Directors of FINCA Bank Kyrgyzstan.
He has 20 years of experience in the financial and banking sector in Kosovo and the region, working for international banks such as Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo, Nova Ljubljanska Banka in Kosovo in various management positions including branch management, credit & operational risk, internal audit. He also served for four years as Deputy CEO in Banka Ekonomike.
Other work experience includes working as a Teaching Assistant of Marketing course in the University of Prishtina, serving as Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Kosovo Banking Association, member of the Audit Committee in the Insurance company SIGURIA as well as in the public sector as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of a municipal’s waste-management company. His initial working experience started as Management Consultant for the USAID project Kosovo Business Support (KBS) and he continues to offer his pro-bono consulting services to CEED for young entrepreneurs.
Fisnik has a Master of Science (MSc) degree from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2000. Prior to that, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Economics in University of Prishtina. Fisnik speaks fluent Albanian, English, Serbian and Croatian.
Auberon Kelmendi first joined FINCA Kosovo in 2011 as a translator and an Executive Assistant before leaving in 2014 to work for the EU project Fight against Homophobia and Transphobia. He returned in 2016 as a Compliance Officer for AML/FT and Special Project Manager, before being promoted to General Counsel later that year. Auberon joined the Management Board of FINCA Kosovo in 2018.
Auberon is a law graduate from Prishtina Public University. He also has experience working with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, UNDP projects on return and reintegration in Kosovo, Access to Justice and various EU Twinning Projects in various capacities.
Auberon is fluent in Albanian, English, Serbian and Croatian.
Mr. Zeka joined FINCA Kosovo team in 2014. He has over 20-year career in banking and microfinance industries in Kosovo and Albania. He began his career in 1999 at ProCredit Bank Kosovo. For a 5-year period he was part of the Support Team at Procredit Bank Albania. During this 20-year period he has gained expertise in Branch Network Management, Sales Operations and Credit Risk Management, has experience in the SME sector and Agriculture lending. He also managed the Human Resources Department for a period of 2 years.
Mr. Zeka completed his studies at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Pristina. He also completed a three-year Management study at the Procredit Academy in Frankfurt, Germany. And also completed the “Falcon” program for FINCA leaders. Recently he is certified with a Post University degree in Digital Marketing in 2021 by EMERITUS Institute, a collaboration between MIT Executive Education and Columbia Business School.
FINCA Impact Finance Global Leadership
The FINCA Impact Finance global management team manages a global organization of more than 12,000 employees
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