«Socks from Grandma»: Bringing Warmth

More than a year ago, Diana Sivitskaya launched her social project "Socks from Grandma”. With this project, she took part in the Biz4all "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator” programme organized by ODB Brussels (Belgium) in partnership with TNU Network University (Netherlands) with financial support from the European Union. Diana Sivitskaya and Olga Miklashevich, the project team, organized two social crowdfunding campaigns. The first campaign was part of a home task for the Biz4all programme, and then the girls just did not want to stop.

You can read more about the social project on our website:  Biz4all. Social Enterprise “Socks from Grandma”: Warm Emotions.

Binding with a thread

The team of "Socks from Grandma” brings socks to the Lahoisk Care Home
Photo: facebook.com

On the cloudy and rainy morning of Saturday the 6th of January, the Lahoisk Care Home was warm and bright. The residents were very happy to see the volunteers. Everyone loved the socks, and some of the women there, who also like to knit, had a chance to assess the quality of work. However, it was clear that the older residents were mainly happy about the attention they received and the opportunity to interact with others, rather than about the presents. “To be honest, I have always been scared of such institutions, and, as is the case for many people, care homes associated with something sad and dark. It turned out to be quite different from what I had pictured. We visited their two departments. In every ward we received a warm welcome and were met with smiles. The men and women were interested to know: where we came from, what we brought, they selected socks, said ‘thank you’ for the sweets we brought, wished us health and happiness for the holidays. It was obvious that all the participants of the event were happy to share the warm feelings with each other”.

"Socks from Grandma" raised funds on ulej.by and took knitted socks to the Lahoisk Care Home for the Elderly and the Disabled Photo: facebook.com


The ulej.by crowdfunding campaign of the "Socks from Grandma" project ended in late December. They set a very low, almost symbolic target in their campaign, because their main goal was to draw attention to the issue of employment of older women and show how grannies could be useful. For three weeks, Diana and her team raised funds to produce knitted socks for a care home for the elderly, as well as for people who wanted to get a knitted present for themselves. Thanks to 38 sponsors who took part, 25 pairs of socks were brought before Christmas to the Lahoisk Care Home for the Elderly and the Disabled, and they were able to bring joy to forty-five elderly men and women who live in the care home. Diana says that after the TALAKA campaign they wanted to organize a campaign on ULEI, in order to compare the two platforms personally. The girl never expected the project to raise 149% of the target amount.

Comparison of fundraising conditions on TALAKA and ULEI crowdfunding platforms


Earlier, in autumn, the team of "Socks from Grandma" raised funds on talaka.org to produce knitted socks and take them to a social canteen for the homeless and the needy. Olga Mikhlashevich says that the canteen has worked in Minsk for a long time already, and many people who come here are in urgent need of food and warm winter clothes. For this category of people, knitted socks are always a necessity.

Socks from Grandma" raised funds on talaka.org and brought socks to a social canteen for the homeless and the needy in Minsk  Photo: facebook.com


Two successful crowdfunding campaigns in the social sphere is quite an achievement. Diana shares her tips on how to organize the campaign. “Before launching our crowdfunding campaign, I studied several projects on ULEI and TALAKA portals. I followed the dynamics of their fundraising, reviewed the authors’ pages on social media. I think I got very lucky because, shortly before we launched our campaign on TALAKA, I was approached by the OnAir magazine who wanted to make an interview with me. After that, “Radio Svaboda” agreed to make a video about the project. A bit later, a TV talk show called “A Day in the Big City” invited me to take part. To be honest, I had no plan, I just posted things on social media every 2-4 days – an article about the project, a video with Lidiya Antonauna, photos of grandmas knitting, ratings of the most popular socks, a reminder of the holidays that were coming up. Generally, I tried everything I could and was perceiving crowdfunding as a game rather than a responsible task. It was a team game, based on the skills of every team member. As a result, we were able to attract many people. By this I mean those who supported us in the crowdfunding campaign, those who donated yarn for the socks, those who got inspired by the project to visit the residents in their care homes, as well as those who collected warm clothes and knitted socks and brought them to the social care home or their local Territorial Centre of Social Services. That is why we started all that – to give birth to a movement of people, showing them where they should focus”.

"Socks from Grandma"present their project to the jury during the final event of Biz4all "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator” programme in November 2017, Minsk. Photo by: Vitali Brazouski


Development prospects

In the year of its existence, the project "Socks from Grandma" became quite recognizable in just one year, and it can be said that now it does its own promotion. For example, Natalia Vasilyevna, one of the project’s active knitters, got invited to the "Strana Mini” (“Mini Country”) museum, where she spends her weekends knitting socks in a specially organized Belarusian photo corner. Afterwards the craftswoman can sell her socks in the local souvenir shop, and one of the large Belarusian web portals has recently published a big interview with the active retiree.

According to Diana, now that the new legislative act on craftsmen and artisans has been adopted in Belarus, which states that they can promote their goods online, there is no longer any need for an intermediary between the grandmas who knit and the buyer. The girl has already set up a portfolio website for one of the craftswomen, where she can showcase her goods and sell them. Diana is planning to do the same for Natalia Vasilyevna. Even though, as team members underscore, Diana’s role as an inspiration and a generator of ideas is very important for the future.

Natalia Vasilyevna, participant of the "Socks from Grandma” project, knits socks in the “Strana Mini” (“Mini Country”) museum  Photo: tut.by


"I am very happy with the fact that legislation is changing and simplifying, and I’m now thinking of creating a personal website for each craftswoman of the “Socks from Grandma” project, with samples of her work and her contacts. Fortunately, it is not difficult to do using a template. We will continue to promote the idea on the social media and advertise the ready-made items with links to the craftswomen’ work. A handmade item combines the unique features of the product with the character of the maker herself, so it is important to showcase both, without disrupting the energy. As a social project, “Socks from Grandma” will pool resources for prospective large orders and initiatives, like knitting socks for a care home from donated yarn. It turns out that many people are ready to donate yarn they no longer need for a good cause”.

Text by: Valeriya Nikalaichyk

Cover photo – OnAir flight magazine

The goal of the programme is to develop a package of social entrepreneurship training programmes in Russian using innovative international practices, as well as the experience of Belarusian diaspora representatives who have become successful entrepreneurs in European Union countries and the USA.

The material was prepared within the framework of the "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator", implemented by ODB Brussels in partnership with TNU Network University (Netherlands), Belarusian Youth Public Union "New Faces" and International Civil Association "Union of Belarusian of the world “Motherland", with support from the European Union.

ODB Brussels