I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Meirav Shacked, an Israeli living in China for seven years. Meirav is a small business owner here, the kind of expat who sees a gap in this fast-paced and dynamic market and creates a business out of that gap.
But let’s first back up to the beginning: how did she come to live in China? Well, what would you do if, on your first date, the cute guy across from you tells you he’s moving 4,900 miles (8,000 km) away? If you’re Meirav, you ask a few questions and decide to move with him!
The former supervisor (at Publicis) from Israel said yes to the adventure because she saw it as an opportunity to explore a new country, culture, and way of life. She even managed to find a job during her look-see visit to Beijing in mid-2011. Her and her then-boyfriend (now husband) lived first in Beijing. After a year at an NGO, Meirav moved on to work at a Chinese language school and at the same time study Mandarin. Her time in Beijing before her wedding was exactly what you think of when you hear about expats enjoying their time abroad. “I convinced all our friends to come live near us in Sanlitun. We would go out all the time. Beijing is very special in that way; we lived in the party place and we would go to small bars in the hutongs. Then we got married and moved to a more conservative apartment complex.”
Around the time of her wedding she began working for the Israeli Chamber of Commerce, and during her tenure there she opened the Israeli Business and Cultural Center (IBCC), which serves to strengthen business ties between China and Israel. Overseeing the completion of the IBCC building while pregnant with her son, Meirav loved her time with the Chamber.
Five years into their time in China, Meirav and her husband thought it might be time to return home to Israel. But a job opportunity for her husband changed their minds, so along with their young son they relocated to Shanghai. “When I came to Shanghai in June 2017, I needed to figure out what I was going to do next. Suddenly I was a full-time mom and an ayi. My son and I had lots of fun, but I needed my own thing.”
A year and a half later, Meirav now is halfway through her EMBA program with CEIBS (China Europe International Business School), and a co-founder of Better Me, an online education platform for Chinese parents to learn about Jewish educational methods for parents. So, what made Meirav and her partner think they could make a free online platform for Jewish education successful? Well, the middle class in China is growing every year, accounting for about 350 million mothers who are likely interested in this kind of content. That is more than the entire population of the United States. And with the lifting of the one-child policy (now two-child policy) there is a generational shift from one child being raised by six people (two parents and two sets of grandparents) to parents raising two children and playing a much more active and involved role in their children’s lives.
Better Me is unlike the competition in that they offer free content to parents that is written by experts in psychology, education, sleep, speech development, and positive parenting. Better Me’s mission is simple: to become the destination for Chinese parents and couples who want to learn about parenting best practices from the experts and have a supportive community around them. Today’s middle-class Chinese parents are eager to learn how to become great parents, but there is a lack of information available to them on the subject. After extensive research, founders Meirav Shacked and Reut Sagi found that there was nowhere for parents to go for free, expert information. Chinese mothers and fathers could subscribe to popular bloggers’ websites, but that only gives one person’s perspective. Or, parents could download an APP and be inundated with ads for products that they may not need. But an online platform with expert-provided content was not in place until now.
As Meirav said when we met, “becoming a parent is a tremendous experience, yet no parent was born with a manual. And while in Israel parental education and coaching is a rather common thing, in China it is still a rare thing. Better Me is a family education platform, with a broad variety of parental education methods from Israel. Our goal is to be the most professional platform for parents.”
Better Me is available on Weibo, WeChat, and several other Chinese social media sites. Parents ask questions about better ways to discipline, to communicate as a family, to help socialize their children, and much more. If you’d like to learn more and join the community, scan the QR code below.