“All businesses have an opportunity and an obligation to make a difference in the world. Our actions matter and our success should be measured by the impact we have in the countries or communities where we do business,” says Manuel Schiappa Pietra (President and CEO of FreeBalance). Manuel is a global executive and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of successful management experience in companies based in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Europe, and Latin America. He has a proven track record in building and running companies from startups to well-established public and private organizations.
Manuel has held executive positions on the boards of several international companies and also served as the President of the International Consortium on Government Financial Management in Washington. Furthermore, he has actively participated in the venture capital space with several successful IPOs in North America, Europe, and South Africa.
In his current role at the helm of FreeBalance, Manuel leads the global growth strategies focused on advancing the company’s objectives and promoting revenue, profitability, and growth. He works with a mission to help governments across the world leverage robust public financial management (PFM) thinking and technology to accelerate the country’s sustainable growth. Manuel has been instrumental in transforming the firm into a customer-centric and socially responsible company expanding its footprint to more than 25 countries worldwide.
Under Manuel’s leadership, the company won the prestigious Canada Achievement Award in 2009 and was recently been recognized by CFI.co with an international award for having one of the world’s most innovative solutions for management in the public sector.
Bouquet of Solutions
Established in 1984, FreeBalance is a purpose-led, Business-to-Government (B2G) advisory services and GovTech solutions provider focused on creating smart prosperity in the countries they operate in. The company partners with enlightened leaders around the world to tackle some of the most pressing global and social-economic problems. With a customer-centric approach, they create and deliver realistic and impactful public sector solutions that enhance transparency, improve effectiveness, restore trust, enable reform and create innovation breakthrough opportunities.
The company specializes in Government Resource Planning (GRP) and the FreeBalance Accountability Suite is the world’s leading PFM solution for all levels of central, regional and local governments, as well as donor agencies.
- Central Government
The GRP solutions for central government provide predictability and control over budget execution, sound public finances, and greater fiscal stability through improved transparency and accountability.
- National Agencies and Authorities
The company provides unique public financial and human resource management solutions for national agencies and authorities such as capital development, revenue, and investment authorities.
- Regional and Local Government
The GRP solutions for sub-national governments can be integrated with any financial management system at the central government level and are available in client-server and web-based configurations. These solutions simplify the financial management at the sub-national level by hiding the complexity of central government accounting.
- Donor Agencies
GRP solutions for external aid projects and funds simplify administration and reduce transaction costs for government or private organizations that manage aid projects. The FreeBalance Accountability Suite automates reporting to donors, project finance management, and project performance management.
Diverse Team and Culture
Values such as diversity, inclusiveness, kindness, and respect are integral parts of Freebalance’s company culture. “For more than thirty years we have worked to build a company to be proud of and a team that espouses the values we hold dear,” adds Manuel. Along with his team, Manuel is working to bring about a positive change and is committed to making a difference in the world.
Swift Response to the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic created massive challenges for the company’s customers with extraordinary demands on governments to support their citizens. Manuel is proud of how his team has stepped up in these testing times – despite their own personal challenges – to develop and implement rapid response solutions that make a difference to millions of people around the world.
“As the global specialist in Public Finance Management, we have developed a portfolio of products and services to overcome fiscal challenges from the pandemic,” said Manuel. The newly developed product portfolio includes services such as,
- Emergency Fiscal Advice Engineering: It gives access to the FreeBalance PFM ‘Virtual War Room’ for governments needing quick access to expert resources during the pandemic response.
- PFM Resilience Empowerment: It provides comprehensive phased PFM advisory engagement for governments seeking to mitigate fiscal shocks from the pandemic through and become resilient to future shocks.
- Emergency Sustainability Enablement: It provides emergency PFM advisory engagement for governments seeking to adjust controls, enable reallocations, and improve tracking during the pandemic.
- Finance Ministry Continuity Engineering: It provides an analysis of critical task regulations, business processes, and information systems to ensure continuity of critical Finance Ministry functions.
- Emergency Tracking Portal: It is a customized health information and expenditure portal for governments seeking to automate transparency and improve citizen effectiveness.
- Government Supplier E-Services: It is an online and mobile alert facility for governments seeking to reduce the burden on suppliers and government staff to track invoices, statements, and payments.
This portfolio of services and products support the reallocation of spending on health, income, and business support from other budgets. They also help to optimize controls to facilitate priority spending, enable audit, and reduce less important expenditures through workflow adjustments. Furthermore, these services and products also enhance tracking, forecasting, and transparency through the integration of timely data across information systems.
The Global Stage
Manuel is no stranger to global advocacy and regularly speaks at conferences and industry events. He has recently convened the 24th Annual CAF Conference which brings together more than 1000 world leaders to debate and discuss the most pressing developments facing the Americas. This year, the discussions were centered on the challenges caused by the pandemic and the ways to recover them.
Manuel is Chairman of the H-20 Government Summit —the invitation-only government meeting of the World Happiness Summit. As the Chairman, Manuel spearheads efforts to explore public policy innovation and wellbeing economics through a new perspective. “Social and cultural values differ among countries and even sometimes within countries. Focusing only on growth and GDP often disconnects policy from citizen aspirations. The evolving science of happiness brings a new dimension to government policy and civic prosperity,” asserts Manuel.
Manuel is also the founding Chairman of the Board of Endeavor Portugal. He reinforces Endeavor’s mission to support high-impact entrepreneurs so that they can build thriving companies that employ thousands of people, generate billions in wages, and inspire countless others as role models. Manuel believes that together, these entrepreneurs hold the key to sustained economic growth in every part of the world.
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