A Centennial Cause

Education is the symbol cause for the celebration of the 100 years of Votorantim and it also marks the centennial commitment of the company and its shareholders with this fundamental social pillar.



The origin of the relevance given by Votorantim to education is intertwined with the early days of the company and the commitment of the family of entrepreneurs and shareholders with the cause.

One of the major investments of Antonio Pereira Ignacio in the early days of Votorantim was the improvement of the company town, where, among others, the primary school Pereira Ignacio and a nursery were installed. The report cards of the students were delivered to him, who personally controlled the grades. The good students were sent to middle school in the city of Sorocaba, with scholarships granted by Pereira Ignacio.

And from those early years, many others followed with increasingly organized and consistent investments in actions aimed at the access and improvement of education.

Daycare for children of employees of the Votorantim Textile Factory, 1920´s.


The trajectories of pioneers Antonio Pereira Ignacio and José Ermírio de Moraes reveal their connection with education as a way of personal growth and also to gain the world.

Pereira Ignacio had a humble origin and arrived in Brazil when he was 10 years old, in 1884, not knowing how to read or write. And this was one of his reasons to attach great importance to education. Not only in Brazil, but also in his homeland, Portugal, he kept projects and invested resources to expand the access to education.

Pereira Ignacio helped the population of Baltar, in Portugal, with several actions, including the creation of free school programs and daycare centers. He built a large house to stay when he was in Portugal. In the back of the house, in addition to serving food for children and the elderly, a teacher was paid to teach children how to read and write

Born in 1900, in the interior of the state of Pernambuco, José Ermírio de Moraes attended the primary school in Upatininga, the old village of Lagoa Seca, distant a few kilometers of the Santo Antônio Mill, where he lived. Later, already a teenager, José Ermírio went to the city of Recife to study in the German School. There, he learned the German and English languages. In a few time, he realized that the higher education in Recife was rather restricted. Mrs. Chiquinha, his mother, encouraged him to seek for technical education in the United States. At the age of 16, José initially studied at the Baylor University, for a short time, and, then, at the Colorado School of Mines, a great learning experience for the young man who would later become a great entrepreneur and also Senator of the Republic.

In an interview to newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo in 1936, José Ermírio de Moraes showed his opinion on the education in Brazil, when he commented on the fact that the government intended to raise taxes to support education. “Who would refuse to contribute in order that the 500 thousand children who are still out of school today may tomorrow enjoy this privilege, an overriding obligation of the State?”

In late 1940´s, when the school where his children studied, Rio Branco, would be closed by its owner Sampaio Dória, José Ermírio de Moraes was outraged with Dória saying that the school was not profitable. “A school cannot be closed! I will buy the school.” And then, José Ermírio de Moraes bought Rio Branco by 75 thousand dollars. Shortly after, he donated the institution to the Rotary Club, its maintainer until these days.

Later, José Ermírio de Moraes would donate the lab the School of Chemistry at the Recife University and the building of the School of Mines to the state of Pernambuco.


While a Senator, José Ermírio de Moraes also demonstrated his concern about Education. When he moved to Brasília, he renovated the country house where he would live with his wife Helena Pereira de Moraes. He also used the land to build a school, and then handed it to the town council and paid a teacher to teach children in need.

In another episode, José Ermírio de Moraes became friends with Senator Eurico Rezende, who owned the Federal District University. José asked Eurico to select five of the best students in his programs among those of poor origin, in order that he could provide scholarships for them, until they graduated. However, he demanded that the beneficiaries should not know who the benefactor was.

And on October 28, 1969, José Ermírio de Moraes pronounced his speech called “36 fundamental items for the economic independence of Brazil”. In one of the items he emphasizes that it would be necessary to create a system to dedicate 20% of the Federal Government budget to Education and 10% for Health, with emphasis on university education.

Appreciation letters to José Ermírio de Moraes for the allocation of resources to schools and universities while Senator, 1969

For the growth of Brazil

Votorantim is a company that has grown up with Brazil. When the country went through the advancement of industrialization and growth in the 1950´s and 1960´s, the need for skilled labor to supply the most diverse areas of industry also grew. Those concerns were reflected in the public reports of the company, as the one of 1960 that said “We need to expand, increasingly, the specialized education programs for chemical engineers, metallurgists, geologists, geophysicists, as well as skilled heads of production who, ultimately, represent the connection between the engineer and the foreman. We need to create perfectly arranged technical schools to educate the young people who want to improve, even if it costs us taxes. It is not possible to understand that a nation with almost 70 million inhabitants graduates only a little more than one thousand engineers per year, (...), if we want to progress rapidly and solidly.”

Therefore, between 1958 and 1971, the company invested in the creation of technical schools, donation of scholarships and structuring of universities.

* This story continues... Follow it on the Memória Votorantim website.

Investment ceremony of Antônio Ermírio de Moraes at the Academy of Literature of São Paulo, 1999