FreeBalance: The ‘Future of Government’ Company

FreeBalance: The ‘Future of Government’ Company

In recent decades, the digital revolution has had a colossal impact on innovation, competition, and creativity worldwide. Innovative technologies are significantly contributing to the economic and social development of societies to every nation worldwide.

Technology is transforming societies digitally with reduced unemployment, improved quality of life, and boosting citizens’ access to public services. But, when it comes to sustainability and growth, developing nations face inimitable challenges, even as globalization has led to many advancements throughout the world.

This is where FreeBalance comes in.

FreeBalance is a government-only Business to Government (B2G) provider and a for-profit social enterprise focused on FreeBalance provides an integrated set of governance advisory services and Government Resource Planning (GRP) solutions. FreeBalance is the “Future of Government Company” by leveraging its policy, public financial management, good governance and digital transformation expertise to support growth. It is the FreeBalance mission, as a global government advisory and digital technology B2G provider and for-profit social enterprise, to enable country Smart and Balanced Prosperity.

With deep global government expertise, FreeBalance engages with thought leaders in good governance and Pubic Financial Management (PFM) and its customers to provide technology expertise that supports country-led development and reform.

FreeBalance’s worldwide user community of government customers include Public Financial Management (PFM) professionals in 25+ countries. FreeBalance software is used to manage a quarter trillion ($US) annual budgets worldwide.

The company works diligently with customers through the FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC) to ensure that products and services evolve in line with global government expectations and standards for quality. The FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC) is an annual interactive forum. FISC attendees exchange public finance, government performance, and policy lessons. FISC insights adapt our future of government vision. Attendees also change the FreeBalance services and product roadmap. FreeBalance describes public sector implications of new agile processes and new technologies.

Smart and Prosperity:  A Holistic Government Approach

It is the FreeBalance mission, as a global government advisory and digital technology B2G provider and for-profit social enterprise, to enable country Smart and Balanced Prosperity. Smart and Balanced Prosperity is a holistic government approach with

  • Good Governance through improved planning, transparency, accountability, and fiscal discipline using evidence to improve government effectiveness
  • Sustainable Growth through aligning policy, planning, execution and performance to environmentally-sustainable citizen growth goals and physical infrastructure priorities
  • Citizen Wellbeing through aligning policy, planning, execution and performance results to citizen social goals and social infrastructure priorities
  • Government Digital Transformation through innovative use of smart digital technologies that extend systems of record to systems of engagement, intelligence, and innovation Manuel Schiappa Pietra: The Prime Mover behind FreeBalance.

“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 that we have in the countries and communities where we do business”

– Manuel Schiappa Pietra, President & CEO of FreeBalance

Manuel Schiappa Pietra, President & CEO of FreeBalance, is a global executive and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of successful management experience in companies based in the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Latin America. He has a proven track record in building and running companies, from “start-ups” to well-established private and public organizations. He has consistently demonstrated an ability to build and lead successful teams and businesses in the international arena.

As President and CEO of FreeBalance, Manuel leads global growth strategies focused on advancing the company’s objectives and promoting revenue, profitability, and growth. Manuel has transformed the firm into a customer-centric and socially responsible company increasing its footprint to 25+ countries worldwide. He is responsible for ensuring that the FreeBalance fulfills its mission to help governments across the world leverage robust financial management technology to accelerate country growth.

Manuel is a recipient of the Next Generation Executive of the Year Award sponsored by the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) and he led the company to win the prestigious Canada Export Achievement Award. FreeBalance was also recently recognized by with an international award for having one of the world’s most innovative solutions for management in the public sector.

As Chairman of the H-20 Government Summit, the invitation-only government meeting of the World Happiness Summit®, Manuel spearheads the efforts to explore public policy innovation and wellbeing economics through a new perspective. Social and cultural values differ among countries and within countries, and growth and GDP focus often disconnects policy from citizen aspirations. The evolving science of happiness brings a new dimension to government policy and civic prosperity.

As Founding Chairman of the Board of Endeavor Portugal, Manuel 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. Together, these entrepreneurs hold the key to sustained economic growth in every part of the world.

Manuel has held executive positions on the boards of several international companies and actively participated in the venture capital space. He has participated in several successful IPO’s in North America, Europe, and South Africa.

FreeBalance’s Services

FreeBalance provides a full footprint of services include Advisory services for PFM, institutional, and accountability reform, Implementation services for FreeBalance, third party software, and technology infrastructure, Sustainability services for training, organizational change management, capacity building, and support.

Moreover, the company leads rivalry among its competitors by providing PFM advisory services, builds Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) GRP products, implements GRP products (while products companies rarely provide services & services companies do not have COTS products)

Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) through government-focus, modern technology, and configuration approach for higher financial sustainability by governments,

Progressive activation to support reform and modernization through configuration approach that scales implementations to increasing government capacity, supporting governments with very low to very high capacity.

B2G Market

FreeBalance strives to attract customers to its brand by providing compelling, quality, thought leadership, and high visibility of capabilities.

FreeBalance’s main markets include Public Financial Management (PFM), Government Resource Planning (GRP), Open Government, Public Investment Management, and Smart Government.

With the biggest clients like Governments of Canada, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Suriname, Uganda, FreeBalance is expanding its footprint across the globe, and providing services to Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and others. FreeBalance maintains project offices in most of the countries where it operates.

Global Social Enterprise Leader

“We fundamentally believe that governments are at the nexus of providing improved citizen quality of life, and for solving global “wicked problems”. This is why FreeBalance is a government-only Business to Government (B2G) provider and a for-profit social enterprise focused on Smart and Balanced Prosperity,” says Manuel Pietra.

FreeBalance does engage in community CSR efforts in addition to operating as a social enterprise. FreeBalance funds this mission through commercial activity. Profit enables the company to invest to improve services and products to increase social impact. The profit motive also creates incentives for innovation. The social mission and profit motive mean that FreeBalance can do well by doing good.

FreeBalance Story

EARLY DAYS (1984-1990)

Ottawa-based Linktek had engaged the Government of Canada departments and agencies to create a set of software products designed to improve fiscal controls and eliminate over-spending. Government organizations were able to see the amount available for spending, using commitment accounting functions, in real-time. The calculation of budget fewer commitments and actuals is known as the “free balance.” As a result, Linktek became so well known for “free balance” in real-time that it changed its name to “FreeBalance”.


Public finance reform concepts take hold in Canada. FreeBalance software incorporated accrual accounting, multiple-year budgeting, and fiscal transparency support because of the deep government focus.


Y2K had brought financial system replacement, and FreeBalance grew and attracted venture capital. FreeBalance expanded its presence within the Government of Canada with effective client/server software, while experienced increasing market share in emerging economies because of the ability to rapidly adapt software.


Manuel Pietra was hired as President and CEO to drive international business. The company realized that the portfolio of legacy technologies precludes using the conventional approach of web-wrapping. The “Public Financial Management Component Map” is developed to create a guideline for a modern Java EE platform with a larger footprint than in the product portfolio, with reusable business components, or “government entities”. The platform and suite were developed without additional investment.

As a result, FreeBalance Accountability Suite helped the company to grow with sales in more advanced countries with a broader and more sophisticated feature set. FreeBalance was able to win international competitive contracts versus Tier 1 ERP companies with lower implementation costs because of a product configuration approach


An advisory engagement with the Minister of Finance of Timor-Leste had faced the prospect of significant infrastructure investments came from increasing oil revenues, provided funding to extend the product line. FreeBalance extended the product suite to support the public investment management cycle that included budget preparation, fiscal information, procurement, and investment results transparency. Civil servants in many countries remarked that they could find more financial information from Timor-Leste than internally in their governments.


When Bill Clinton, through his foundation, challenged Cisco to use technical knowledge to make cities more sustainable. A McKinsey study describes the rising “infrastructure gap” as governments grapple with the negative effects of growth. The United Nations develops the Sustainable Development Goals while the International Monetary Fund develops a public investment management evaluation tool. As a result, FreeBalance’s decision to rewrite government financial management software, and the development of public investment management functionality based on Government of Canada and International best practices, is ideally suited for smart and open government. The extensible FreeBalance Accountability Platform enables the company to develop new modules and functionality faster than customizing ERP applications.

Leadership in a Pandemic

Today, COVID-19 pandemic has transformed organizations and the way they function. This is a phase that we had never seen before. As the lockdown gets extended in many countries, organizations are trying to restart the work from offices. The issues have changed the very environment of the workplace and there will be a “new normal” that we all must learn to adapt to. Even leaders will need to redefine their leadership style to be more effective in these testing times.

“In times of crisis, we must work together as a global community and do all that we can to support our colleagues, families and friends. At FreeBalance, we also have a moral and social responsibility to support our customers while we deal with the scale and impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic,” says Manuel Pietra.

“We take our responsibility seriously and we are doing all that we can to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees, customers, and the international Public Financial Management (PFM) community which we serve. We have a dedicated team working to ensure business continuity and we are working across the company to take every proactive and responsible action to prevent the further spread of the virus,” he expressed.

“We have systems and processes in place to minimize the effect of the coronavirus. We have a global model with local delivery. Our Public Financial Management (PFM) professionals are hired locally and regionally to support customers, build internal capacity, and foster a culture of self-sufficiency and sustainability. Our local teams have the full support of the international FreeBalance workforce. This approach means that our global operations continue to function even in the face of crisis and adversity. FreeBalance is following the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to inform our decisions. As a temporary measure, we have followed the advice of these organizations and restricted all non-essential travel within the company. During this time, our international experts are providing project and customer support remotely so that our standards of customer service and support are not be compromised.”

Company name: FreeBalance

Key person: Manuel Schiappa Pietra, President & CEO, FreeBalance


1. “We are more than a software company. We are a team of passionate, inspired people who build solutions to empower governments to do great things. We make a difference with our work”

2. “Customers are at the core of everything we do. So much so that we include them in our product development process. We don’t repurpose enterprise solutions, we build with government, for the government”

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