Main Policy Areas: Access to finance, enabling business environment, inclusion (gender, refugees)
Maria has 25 years of experience in the provision of advisory and technical assistance services to various development partners. Like Enrico, she has been extensively involved in the evaluation of single and multi-country programs and projects promoting an enabling business environment in low- and middle-income countries. In particular, this work has involved the assessment of investment climate reforms in various areas (e.g. access to finance, investment promotion in the agribusiness and tourism sectors, business regulation and taxation) as supported by the IFC. Maria also has a solid background in financial inclusion (including access to digital financial services), having led several assessments providing analysis at various levels (macro, meso, market, micro). She recently concluded an evaluation of an initiative of the United Nations Capital Development Fund promoting the financial and digital inclusion of micro merchants in Bangladesh, which earned the United Nations Development Programme’s Evaluation Excellence Award for Outstanding Evaluation in 2022. Her long-standing evaluation experience also includes the assessment of several EU initiatives and directives.
Maria, in addition to a remote past as a forklift truck driver, is a meticulous analyst who enjoys building or reconstructing theory of change frameworks, seeking to understand the challenges to be addressed, the activities to be implemented and the results to be achieved towards reaching a final objective. She thrives on engaging with stakeholders and beneficiaries, from focus group discussions with microfinance clients to high-level interviews with policy makers. The inclusion of gender is an important transversal area in her work. She is also passionate about supporting the economic integration and entrepreneurship of refugees, having carried out targeted market studies as well as provided business start-up and development training for refugee microentrepreneurs. Maria’s experience beyond the EU covers some 25 countries, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa (including several fragile and conflict-affected states), but also Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa as well as Asia.
Maria holds an MA in International Relations and Economics from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University (USA) and a BSc in Economics from the University of Göteborg (Sweden). She is also a graduate of the Boulder Institute of Microfinance.