Milu Villela posing in private at Itausa, a holding company with interests in various industries such as banking (Itau Bank), insurance, private pension plans and capitalisation; lumber and construction materials; electronics; chemicals; real estate, etc... Milu Villela's family is one of the main shareholders of Itausa.

Milú Villela

Maria de Lourdes Egydio Villela, better known as Milu Villela, is one of Brazil’s richest women, yet she devotes the majority of her time flying to the assistance of the most poverty stricken. For within her own homeland, 46 million people live below the poverty line.

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Daughter of a scientist who had worked with Marie Curie and granddaughter of the founder of the Itau Bank, this elegant heiress, now 55 years old, is part of family who controls one the most important banks in the country: Itau Bank.

In 1994, after having raised two children of her own, she created an association “Despertar” (Awake) whose headquarters are based in one of Sao Paulo’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. The organization includes a school doted with twenty four classrooms, a day care center able to care for 170 infants and an outdoor athletic facility. Each year, approximately 1,600 youths receive career training at the center, allowing the majority of them to find work. That same year, all while rejoicing in the success of the vocational training center, Milu Villela took over the directorship of the Modern Art Museum of Sao Paulo and in less than five years time succeeded in raising the 4.5 million reals required for the renovation of the establishment. She believes that “art is also a means by which society may be improved”, and she has opened the doors of the museum to public school children and has transformed her bank’s cultural foundation into a miniature version of Paris’ Pompidou Center, in which entrance is free of charge for all and receives around 2,500 visitors a day. But Milu’s greatest accomplishment for which she is famous throughout Brazil is her association “Faça Parte” (Be a part of it) which she founded in 2001 after being selected by the U.N. to preside over the Brazilian committee of the International Year of Volunteers.


In November 2002, Milu Villela was the first woman of the civil society to be invited to speak to the United Nations General Meeting about the volunteering cause, thus making the beginning of a new journey towards the stimulation of the voluntary work worldwide.

Her goal: to incite her fellow citizens to become involved in volunteer and educational activities. Which is how some 42 million individuals, from all walks of life, have already replied to her call for help by becoming volunteers, willingly participating in a variety of humanitarian causes. As of this year, the association has published its first hornbook to support the program “Zero Hunger” set up by Brazilian president Lula in an attempt to eradicate the widespread problem of malnutrition and lack of formal education present throughout the poorest populations of the country. Milu Villela’s vocation is above all an attempt to build a society based on fairness and solidarity, and as one of Brazil’s most influential women, she has chosen to devote her life’s work to this worthy cause.


Text by Frederic Neema
© 2003 Frederic Neema

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Children from  the communitarian association, Despertar, gather around Milu Villela  at the Museum of Modern Arts in Sao Paulo. Villela started this association as a day-care for 165 children is now also a center to promote and teach professional courses to young people in poor and violent neighborhoods.
Title:
Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 3, 2003
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Children from  the communitarian association, Despertar, gather around Milu Villela  at the Museum of Modern Arts in Sao Paulo. Villela started this association as a day-care for 165 children is now also a center to promote and teach professional courses to young people in poor and violent neighborhoods.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 3, 2003
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Milu Villela applauds students at the communitarian association, Despertar ("Wake-Up") she created in 1994. The association that started as a day-care for 165 children is now also a center to promote and teach professional courses to young people in poor and violent neighborhoods.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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August 29, 2003
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Milu Villela inside one of the workshops of her communitarian association, Despertar ("Wake-Up") where items such as cushions, clothes and bags are manufactured to be sold to the public through commercial chains and  the Museum of Modern Arts of Sao Paulo.
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August 29, 2003
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Milu Villela inside one of the workshops of hercommunitarian association, Despertar ("Wake-Up") where items such as scarves, clothes, cushions and bags are manufactured to be sold to the public through commercial chains and  the Museum of Modern Arts of Sao Paulo.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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August 29, 2003
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Milu Villela visits students of a course in electrical installation at the communitarian association, Despertar ("Wake-Up") she created in 1994. The association that started as a day-care for 165 children is now also a center to promote and teach professional courses to young people in poor and violent neighborhoods.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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August 29, 2003
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Milu Villela visits students of a course in hairdressing  at the communitarian association, Despertar ("Wake-Up") she created in 1994. The association that started as a day-care for 165 children is now also a center to promote and teach professional courses to young people in poor and violent neighborhoods.
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August 29, 2003
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It is nap time inside the day-care center of Milu Villela's communitarian association, Despertar ("Wake-Up") that she created in 1994. The association that started as a day-care for 165 children is now also a center to promote and teach professional courses to young people in poor and violent neighborhoods.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 1, 2003
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A family inside their house in the favella of Vila Clara just next to  Mil? Villela's  communitarian association, Despertar. An estimated 15% of Sao Paulo's population lives in slums or favelas scattered around the city.  The homes have very primitive plumbing systems and sewage is usually dumped directly into the rivers. Sao Paulo, with close to 20 million people,  is one of the largest cities in the world  and Brazil's most populous city.
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September 1, 2003
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The favella of Divisa Diadema close to Mil? Villela's  communitarian association, Despertar. An estimated 15% of Sao Pauloís population lives in slums or favelas scattered around the city.  The homes have very primitive plumbing systems and sewage is usually dumped directly into the rivers. Sao Paulo, with close to 20 million people,  is one of the largest cities in the world  and Brazil's most populous city.
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September 1, 2003
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The favella of Divisa Diadema close to Milu Villela's  communitarian association, Despertar. An estimated 15% of Sao Pauloís population lives in slums or favelas scattered around the city.  The homes have very primitive plumbing systems and sewage is usually dumped directly into the rivers. Sao Paulo, with close to 20 million people,  is one of the largest cities in the world  and Brazil's most populous city.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 1, 2003
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11-2160-1232
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Inside the favella of Vila Clara just next to  Milu Villela's  communitarian association, Despertar. An estimated 15% of Sao Paulo's population lives in slums or favelas scattered around the city.  The homes have very primitive plumbing systems and sewage is usually dumped directly into the rivers. Sao Paulo, with close to 20 million people,  is one of the largest cities in the world  and Brazil's most populous city.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 1, 2003
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Milu Villela speaking to the press at the Annual Meeting of the Secretaries of Education of Brazil in Sao Paulo and deploying a great energy to promote the programs of her volunteering organization,  Faca Parte.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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August 28, 2003
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Milu Villela inside the library of the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) of Sao Paulo with Maria Rossi, head of the library.  Villela has been the President of MAM since 1994. Under Villela's presidency, the library has experienced a huge increase in its number of users.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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August 28, 2003
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Milu Villela at the Annual Meeting of the Secretaries of Education of Brazil in Sao Paulo.
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August 28, 2003
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Milu Villela in her office at the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) of Sao Paulo. Villela has been the President of MAM since 1994 and has completely revamped it, increasing its visitors from 10,000 in 1994 to more than 280,000 today .
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August 28, 2003
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Milu Villela with her own bodyguard next to her bullet-proof Audi car at the Museum of Modern Arts (MAM) in Sao Paulo. Villela is the President of the MAM since 1994.
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September 3, 2003
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Milu Villela posing in front of a sculpture by Oscar Niemeyer and the main building of  Itausa, a holding company with interests in various industries such as banking (Itau Bank), insurance, private pension plans and capitalisation; lumber and construction materials; electronics; chemicals; real estate, etc... Milu Villela's family is one of the main shareholders of Itausa.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 3, 2003
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18-2160-1909
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The main building of Itausa, a holding company with interests in various industries such as banking (Itau Bank), insurance, private pension plans and capitalisation; lumber and construction materials; electronics; chemicals; real estate, etc... Milu Villela's family is one of the main shareholders of Itausa,
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 3, 2003
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19-2160-1734
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Milu Villela at Itausa, a holding company with interests in various industries such as banking (Itau Bank), insurance, private pension plans and capitalisation; lumber and construction materials; electronics; chemicals; real estate, etc... Milu Villela's family is one of the main shareholders of Itausa.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 3, 2003
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Milu Villela at Itausa, a holding company with interests in various industries such as banking (Itau Bank), insurance, private pension plans and capitalisation; lumber and construction materials; electronics; chemicals; real estate, etc... Milu Villela's family is one of the main shareholders of Itausa.
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September 3, 2003
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Milu Villela in the boardroom at Itausa, a holding company with interests in various industries such as banking (Itau Bank), insurance, private pension plans and capitalisation; lumber and construction materials; electronics; chemicals; real estate, etc... Milu Villela's family is one of the main shareholders of Itausa and Milu is one of the Board members.
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Milu Villela posing in front of a portrait of her late father, Eudoro Villela, that is displayed along with her name on one of the buildings at Itausa Holding in Sao Paulo. The building was named  after him.  Eudoro Villela was a scientist working in France with French top scientist, Marie Curie.  He was the chairman of the board of the Itausa Holding Group  until he died in 2001at the age of 93. Milu Villela's family is one of the main shareholders of Itausa.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 3, 2003
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Milu Villela with her father, Eudoro Villela, in an undated picture. Eudoro Villela was a scientist working in France with French top scientist, Marie Curie.  He was the chairman of the board of the Itausa Holding Group  until he died in 2001at the age of 93.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 2, 2003
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24-2160-1645
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