Mariana Branco is an economist and independent evaluator with more than 5 years of experience measuring the economic returns of social investments. She worked, studied and volunteered in a wide range of countries; is a board member of the European Evaluation Society; coordinated a branch of the Portuguese Mission for the Refugees and is currently a consultant at the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group, in Washington DC.
Beginning, my passion
Politics and the socio-economics have been my passion since my early adolescence. Even then I understood that poverty was not an unchangeable truth, but a diagnosis of a problem that had a solution. Therefore I made a commitment to spend my life exploring possible solutions for it.
Economics, the foundations
I wanted to put my skills to the service of global well being and to fulfill this dream I looked for a Bachelor Degree where I might understand what rules our system and where I could improve my mathematical skills and develop statistical foundations. That was when I applied for Economics.
Volunteering, learning from the ground
To complement my formal analytic education I sought extracurricular activities: participated in one year training on “Gender Equality and Girls Political and Civic Empowerment”; campaigned for the legalization of abortion in Portugal; was a fair-trade volunteer and provided tutoring sessions to low resource students.
Peace & Cooperation
Despite these activities, I still felt the eagerness to feed my passion for international policy. Therefore, I joined the Portuguese Agency for the Promotion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) and organized a series of round tables at the faculty to debate alternative thinking in economics.
6 Months in Kenya, 6 months in Turkey
Under the Erasmus Program I went to Turkey motivated by extreme curiosity for the Middle East, religious confrontations and the EU enlargement. Afterwards, I enrolled for 6 months European Voluntary Service (EVS) in Kenya, a major paradigm shifting experience. Being the “Mzungo” (European/White) in Nairobi slums can be a humbling experience, no matter how logical are the strategies devised in Brussels.
International Relations, Cooperation & Health Economics
Back in Portugal, the Master Course in “History, International Relations and Cooperation” fulfilled my heart‘s desire. I become research associate at University of Porto and developed a thesis on the impact of “User Fees for Maternal Health Care in Low Resource Settings”.
Professionalization, Social Impact Analysis
While studying, I conducted surveys and provided consultancies in social impact evaluation. Yet, I never thought these would be the main themes of my current work. I started working at 4Change, a Portuguese consultancy company, in 2012 and since then I have been doing Monitoring & Evaluation. Particularly, Social Impact Analysis.
Social Return On Investment (SROI)
My main expertise is a Social Impact and Cost-Benefit analysis called Social Return On Investment (SROI). I had the pleasure to develop the first published SROI analysis in Portugal and to manage the first SROI mentoring program. Since then I did multiple SROI analysis. I managed the Social Impact Program until its third edition.
Innovating & Presenting
I have also produced multiple SROI manuals, training guidelines and articles. Examples are the Activity Based SROI model (abSROI) and an experimental paper on the use of Non-market Valuation in Social Impact Bonds and Social Finance. Both presented at the European Society (EES) biennial conferences, 2014 and 2016, respectively.
Evidence Based Policy & Impact of European Funds
In July 2015 I became an Independent Consultant and decided to study again, investing in my statistic and econometric skills. I did a Post-grad at the University of United Nations-Merit on "Evidence Based Policy Research Methods". In addition, during 2015 and 2016 I supported the design of a M&E system for the Portuguese Policy on Employment and Social Inclusion, under the Portugal2020 agenda.
Internationalization, Private Sector Evaluation & SDG's
Since 2016 I have been developing SROI analysis in Brasil. At the same time I work for BHP - Brugger and Partners Lda. Toghether we conducted an SROI mentoring program for projects financed by the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund. We have also been assessing the sustainability reporting of portfolio companies such as Unilever, Danone and Essilor, according to a methodology developed by BHP.
Coordination & Evaluation of Humanitarian Aid
In 2016/2017, I coordinated the Portuguese Agency For the Refugees (RSP) in Lesbos, Greece. Alongside, I did trainings on evaluation of humanitarian aid, peace fragile and complex settings. I also started Arabic classes. All these experience served to straighten my heart's desire, which to build a career devoted to the measurement and improvement of humanitarian, peace building and disaster relief actions.
Building Evaluation Capacity in the World's Poorest Regions
2018 was marked by a new role as a consultant at the Independent Evaluation Group of The World Bank. I am now supporting the strategic development of The World Bank Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (https://www.theclearinitiative.org). Working for the WB represents a fortunate learning opportunity and an important transition from being a solo player to becoming part of an multilateral agency.
A concise list of some of the most valuable professional skills I possess. My tricks of the trade and what I can bring to the table.
Explore my professional and volunteering history. Get to know the institutions I worked at and the roles and responsibilities I have been assigned.
The World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group (IEG)
Washington DC May 2018 - present
Social Return On Investment
Brazil May 2017 - present
Brugger and Partner Lda
Assessment of Sustainability Reports
Switzerland Jul 2016 – Present
Plan & 4Change
Social Return On Investment
Brazil 2015 – 2017
Refugee Support Platform
Volunteering - Mission Coordination
Greece Nov 2016 - Feb 2017
Public Policy Impact Evaluation
Portugal 2015 - 2016
Brugger and Partners Lda
Evaluation Training and Mentoring
Technical Coordination of Evaluation Training and Mentoring
Portugal 2013 - 2016
Social Impact Analysis
Portugal 2013 - 2015
Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation
Portugal 2013 - 2014
Institute of Public Health, University of Porto
Research on Health Economics
Portugal 2011 - 2012
Centre for African Studies, University of Porto
Research on Indigenous Knowlege and Interculturality
Portugal 2010 - 2011
European Volunteering Service
Kenya Jan 2010 - Jul 2010
Social Impact Assessment
Cape Verd & Mozambique 2010 - 2011
Domp & Indicios
Portugal 2005 - 2009
Portugal 2008 - 2010
A Tea About Economics
Portugal 2008 - 2009
Portuguese Agency for the MDGs
Portugal 2007 - 2009
Reviravolta Fair Trade
Youth Network For Gender Equality
Portugal 2005 - 2006
Discover how I connect with peers, advocating for more social value accountability and promoting capacity building in evaluation.
See where I spend time studying and gained early knowledge to prepare my professional life.
University on Milan, Italy
Cost-benefit analysis of investment projects
United Nations University
Evidence Based Policy Research Methods
The SROI Network, UK
SROI Trainers Accreditation Course — 2015
Masterclasse on Outcomes and Indicators — 2013
Masterclass on Financial Proxies — 2013
SROI Practitioners Training — 2013
Faculdade de Economia, Portugal
Bachelor Degree in Economics
2004 — 2009
Faculdade de Letras, Portugal
History, International Relations and Cooperation
2010 — 2012
Ege University, Turkey
Erasmus Mobility Programs
Branco M. How are CBA optimizing the value added by social interventions
7th Millan Summer School on Cost-benefit analysis
Branco M. Non-market valuation on Social Impact Bonds Contracting.
12th EES Biennial conference
Branco M. Portugal Impact Group: sharing best-practices
12th EES Biennial conference
Branco M, Martinho J, Mesquita J. Evaluation Opportunities In Peripheral Countries In Times of
Economic Crisis: Ideas From Portugal
Branco M. How to Combine with SROI with London Benchmarking Group (LBG)
Monitor and evaluate the impact and performance of peace-building and disaster relief operations in fragile states.
Help bridging the gap between social impact investing and the lack of funding in the humanitarian sector, through social value accounting.
Actively support evidence based peace-building policy and decision making.