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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Milu Villela's father, Eudoro Villela, in a 1932 picture where he poses in his lab in Bordeaux, France. Eudoro Villela was a scientist working with France's top scientist, Marie Curie, in France. He was the chairman of the board of the Itausa Holding Group  until he died in 2001at the age of 93. The handwritten text in French says: "To my dearest Dad and Mom, with a lot, lot of thoughts from Eudoro. Bordeaux, March 1932"
Title:
Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 2, 2003
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25-2160-1638
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Undated file picture of Alfredo Egydio de Souza Aranha, grand-father of  Milu Villela.  Alfredo Egydio de Souza Aranha (1894-1961) funded the Itausa Holding, a 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...Itau Bank is the second largest private bank in Brazil.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 3, 2003
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Another prize for Milu Villela at the ECO Award ceremony organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo. Next to her is Sao Paulo State's Secretary of Culture, Claudi Costin. Villela received on behalf of  the Itau Bank the 2003 ECO prize in the category education, for a project aimed at stimulating and developing writing abilities with children. ECO,  a Portuguese acronym for "Company in the Community", is  an award that was created to stimulate social actions by enterprises in the areas of health, education, environmental protection/education, community participation and culture.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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August 29, 2003
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27-2160-0491
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Milu Villela having lunch with famlous Brazilian actor, Raul Cortez, at the restaurant of the Museum of Modern Art (MAM). Milu uses aggressively all her connections and contacts to promote her voluntarsim movement in Brazil.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 2, 2003
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Milu Villela posing in front of a structure by Venezuelan-born Jesus Rafael Soto at Itausa Holding in Sao Paulo.  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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29-2160-1950
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Milu Villela during the taping of her bi-weekly radio show "Faca Parte" at the local radio station El Dorado where she promotes voluntarism in Brazil.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 1, 2003
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30-2160-1444
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One of the buildings of the Itau Bank in Sao Paulo. Milu Villela's family is one of the main shareholders 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...
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
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September 3, 2003
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31-2160-1722
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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.
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Milu Villela, Itau, Brazi...
Date:
September 3, 2003
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32-2160-1865
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