In a Nutshell
Girl Gone International (GGI) is a non-profit global expat community for women that has hubs in over a hundred cities worldwide. They have a web magazine about travel, living abroad, and women's issues written by their members. According to GGI's Asia Regional Manager, Michelle Ibarra, the Shanghai chapter has 3000 active members. The group meets several times a month for activities ranging from arts and crafts to nightlife meetups and charity events.
Girl Gone International was founded by a Scottish woman, Anne Scott, in Hamburg, in 2013. It began with their free web magazine that they still publish every few months on the Gone Girl International website. They then started organizing events and creating GGI communities across Europe. That has since grown to over 100 cities and 80,000 members. The magazine and website are privately funded by Anne Scott and the administration of organization is completely volunteer based.
So unlike a lot of expat networking groups, joining GGI is completely free. There are no membership fees and you won't ever have to do any fundraising for them. There are no restrictions on nationality or age for membership, although members are generally in their late 20s and early 30s. Around 30% are English-speaking locals and the rest are expats from around the world. The only requirement to join is that you associate with being a woman. And there's a reason for that, says Nisrine Guenned, one of the members of GGI, who works as a marketing consultant in Shanghai.
What They Do
Girl Gone Shanghai is organized through different WeChat groups. Their literary club meets to discuss a book once a month. A health and fitness group does weekly running events and organizes self defense classes and other exercise activities. The nightlife group does drinks and cocktail nights. The arts and culture group goes to music gigs and museums. The business group doesn't meet so often, but they actively discuss business ideas, trends, and share related events. The food group meets once a month to try a different cuisine. There's also a group just for Spanish speakers, and there are two main WeChat groups where anything can be discussed.
Occasionally the group does charity events. Previously they've raised 16,000rmb for the Shanghai Healing Home. For their upcoming fashion show, they're working with breast cancer awareness charity More Than Aware. But aside from helping the community, a bigger part of the group is how they help each other, from personal life to the professional world. They attend each others events, help promote their businesses, and help each other to find jobs.
How You Can Get Involved
You can connect with the group on their Meetup page, or just attend one of their events to meet them. They also have a revamped website coming out later this fall that will include member forums and a dedicated page for each city.
Once you join, you can learn more about the organization and pitch your own ideas for events and help out with current activities. And if you ever leave Shanghai and move to a new city, you can join the network there or start up your own. The Beijing GGI community starts this week and Tokyo starts next month. Other cities with GGI communities in Asia include Seoul, Chengdu, Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, Hanoi, and Phnom Penh.