An Astrologer's Global Prediction: What's In Store for 2020?

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The time has come to bid farewell to 2019 which in the eastern astrological tradition came under the sign of the Yellow Earth Pig.

The key word for 2019 is uncertainty and it has made itself felt in politics, in our personal lives and the professional sphere. No doubt many found that things they started had to be postponed or ended up being very drawn out, and that dealing with the mundane issues of everyday life seemed to take forever.

Responsible for this were Jupiter and Neptune, the two most important planets of the Solar System. A conflict between these two giants is one of the trickiest aspects of the astrological skies and they were in conflict throughout all of 2019.

A Jupiter-Neptune conflict tends to bring fraud, incorrect or intentionally falsified information as well as indecision.

Brexit has been the most visible scenario on the political stage. Would Brexit actually happen or not? The situation appeared to sway in one direction and then the other with any ultimate decision being postponed until 2020. Many people in this outgoing year have found their personal lives affected by the same element of uncertainty. On the one hand, a situation might have required that a decision be made and on the other hand, it has not been possible to make a decision for various reasons that have not always been clear.

However, on the first New Moon of 2020 which will be in Aquarius on 25th of January, the Yellow Earth Pig will finally wag its tail at us and depart handing over the reins of power to the White Metal Rat.

Readers of my book 'Complete Horoscope 2020' are asking me how it is that a difficult period can be indicated for the majority of signs for the second half of 2020. Surely this doesn't usually happen?

In this case, 2020 is an exception to the rule. The year 2020 will set the stage for significant astrological cycles responsible for powerful social, economic and political forces and these energies will serve as the main drivers for events in the second half of the year. The main astrological event of 2020 will be the first conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the sign of Aquarius on 21st December. This is when the renowned Age of Aquarius will finally begin.

In astrological terms an Age is a huge period lasting for 2,160 years and is determined by the transition of the earth's axis from one zodiac sign to another.

The past twenty years have been hectic and they have also served as a preparatory stage for the adoption of the new rules of the forthcoming age and 2020 will mark the final year of the outgoing Piscean Age.

The year 2020 will be a defining year for humanity. It is a year that represents the summing up of the past and the establishment of a new order.

The year 2020 can roughly be divided into two very different periods. The first half of the year, the period from January to June, will be a relatively calm time when many of us will be successful in realizing our dreams and putting concrete plans into place. The second half of the year from June onwards will be much more difficult as the warlike planet Mars will come closer to Earth in the sign of Aries, where it is incredibly powerful. The most unsettled period will be the autumn months – the second half of September and into October and November. During this time, many will find that the problems which their country is experiencing as a whole are affecting their own fate and professional activities. The stars, therefore, would suggest preparing oneself for potential financial difficulty and frustration during the calmer months of 2020, that is, between January and May.

With all this in mind, it is natural that this should be a turbulent time. Old economic and political systems will continue to break down. New countries will rise to a position of domination taking the place of others. This process is already taking place and come 2020, it will be plain for all to see.

But no system will give up without a fight. The resistance of the old world will be stubborn and belligerent but ultimately futile as the year 2020 will put paid in a powerful way to the old political world model as well as everything that has already exhausted its usefulness. We are already seeing signs of conflict between the old systems and the new. Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon and the yellow vests movement in France are among the most evident signs of a new societal trend and it is highly likely that protest movements will become more intense and more frequent. In general, the world is going to become more multipolar whereas in the recent past it has been unipolar.

The peak of wars between supporters of the old and the new order will culminate in the second half of 2020, the period lasting from July to December.

Equally, the period between August and October may herald a huge, global economic crisis that will affect all countries throughout the world.

In this same period, we may witness peace agreements breaking down and active military hostility in hot spots around the world.

In 2020, there are six eclipses, whereas most years feature no more than four. It is to be expected that a greater number of eclipses occurs in years that are set to define the development of events for many years to come.

Personal life Love is not cancelled just because there is a crisis. There is reason to hope that while humanity exists, love will live on and in this regard, 2020 may turn out to be a surprisingly interesting year. Many will make unexpected decisions that have long been put off 'till later'.

Unstable unions are likely to fall apart and relationships that have been facing difficulties may find that any unresolved issues become amplified now to the extent that they are impossible to ignore and, in this regard, the second half of 2020 will prove to be the most problematic. Couples bound by sincere, genuine feeling, however, may find themselves taking their relationship to a new level by deciding to move in together or getting married.

That said, in the next few years, the very institution of marriage may come under serious review. In the Aquarian Age, marriages will tend to be built not on the basis of a stamp on a marriage certificate or material values but on love, equality and spiritual unity. 'Guest marriages' will see increasing popularity and women are likely to gain complete independence.

Gender roles and differences are also likely to continue to blur as Aquarius is a sign associated with androgyny. And whereas some signs of this trend are apparent now, in the near future, over the next decade or so, it will be become quite blatant.

Children born at the end of 2020 will show unusual abilities; the skies will grant them the talents of scientists and inventors and with time they will become true initiators of progress in their chosen fields. These will be the real Indigo children - clever, spiritually developed, talented and honest.

Climate A shift in astrological age equates to a shift in climate and the climate will be changing everywhere. Mars in the fire sign of Aries in the summer months may stimulate large fires in Russia and other countries.

The three summer eclipses may portend natural disasters around the world. In this regard, the Solar eclipse of 21st June 2020, which according to ancient texts threatens harmful atmospheric precipitation (floods), is especially significant. Countries whose borders are on a coast would be advised to take precautionary measures in particular America, England, France and Spain. In Russia, there may be repeats of floods and forest fires the like of which we have seen before.

In mountainous landscapes earthquakes are also a possibility in the second half of 2020.

Despite it all, this is not a forecast to predict an apocalypse. This will not be the first time that humanity has experienced periods of intense upheaval and we will cope as we always have done and more and more people will start focusing on ecological concerns.

Fashion With the three most important planets in Capricorn, designers will be impelled first and foremost to focus on the color black and classic combinations with white. A secondary place will be occupied by shades of grey with dark-blue and dark-green colors also getting a look-in. Leather will make a comeback and classical suits and retro outfits are likely to be popular again.

Discoveries Towards the end of 2020, we will be seeing the first inklings of innovative modes of transport which by 2025 will have become firmly integrated into our lives. Digital technology will flourish and the world will become even more virtual. There may be significant discoveries in medicine including a new cure for cancer. Likewise, important discoveries will be made in IT and the space industry.

Cryptocurrencies have a promising future. These will be adopted by many countries and over time come to replace our existing money, similar to when plastic bank cards replaced cash.

Health Mars in Aries is responsible for all ailments associated with the head, so people who suffer from this kind of health issue should be especially mindful to take good care of themselves.

The combination of Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn in the sign of Capricorn can provoke various skin-related illnesses as well as problems with the musculoskeletal system, bone structure and spine.

The number of people affected by cancer will increase, so make sure you take the time to attend regular checkups with the doctor as cancer can only be cured when caught in the early stages.

The World Stage The years 2020 and 2021 are crucial for all humanity. Unrest in the countries of the European Union will intensify as these populations come to understand that the position of the political elite fails to represent the interests of the majority. EU residents will face a fall in standards of living which may spark demonstrations and strikes in France, Germany and Spain.

The situation in England may become highly unstable and the United States will not be exempt from crisis either which will be economic as much as a political in nature. It is likely that the situation surrounding President Donald Trump will become even more complex. The confrontation between Trump and his opponents will intensify, and discord among the American elite could culminate in a crisis capable of rocking the entire system. This in turn would cause the value of the American dollar to plummet. It is probable that the dollar will begin to fall by 2021 and continue to decline.

The United States and China are unlikely to find a common language and I fear the trade war between these two great powers will continue and in the longer term, China may come out tops.

In China they have a saying, "God forbid you should live in times of change!" And yet we are living in times of change, global change no less, and so I wish everyone patience and the Earth peace and harmony!

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Dear VCs: Making Pledges Won't Close The Funding Gap

Amid the mainstream conversation about inclusion and justice in the workplace, otherwise known as #MeToo, a Silicon Valley venture capital fund considered how they can be more inclusive of the women, minority, and LGBTQ entrepreneurial communities.

Their solution? Ask the CEOs they currently fund to promise to hire senior-level employees from diverse backgrounds.

Lightspeed Venture Partners, a venture capital fund that has investments with blockbuster startups such as The Honest Company, Affirm, and HQ Trivia, has asked its portfolio company CEOs to sign a “side letter" affirming their commitment to consider women and other underrepresented groups for senior jobs and new spots on their board of directors.

Can making pledges— or even hiring a C-Suite level employee to manage diversity efforts— really make an impact on the funding gap for multicultural women-led companies?

Many experts say it's going to take systemic change, not letters of intent.

It is well reported that the amount of investment going to multicultural women-led companies is incongruous to the entrepreneurial landscape and the performance of their businesses. Between 2007 and 2016, there was an increase of 2.8 million companies owned by women of color. Nearly eight out of every 10 new women-owned firms launched since 2007 has been started by a woman of color yet, these businesses receive an abysmal 0.2 percent of all funding. Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller, founders of Mented cosmetics, were just the 15th and 16th Black women in history to raise $1M in the fall of 2017.

The multicultural women who do defeat the odds to get funded receive significantly less than male founders. The average startup founded by a Black woman raises only $36,000 in venture funding, while the average failed startup founded by a White man raises $1.3M before going out of business.

The implicit and explicit bias not only impacts individual multicultural female founders, it could be stifling innovation. For example, companies with above-average diversity on their management teams reported innovation revenue as 45 percent of total revenue compared to just 26 percent of total revenue at companies with below-average management diversity. That means nearly half the revenue of companies with more diverse leadership comes from products and services launched in the past three years.

In our economy today, venture capital is responsible for funding the work of our most innovative companies. Venture capital-backed U.S. companies include some of the most innovative companies in the world. In 2013, VC-backed companies account for a 42 percent of the R&D spending by U.S. public companies.

With a wealth of multicultural women entrepreneurs and evidence to support the performance of diverse companies, why does this funding gap persist?

According to Kristin Hull, founder of Oakland-based Nia Impact Capital and Nia Community, many traditional investors consider women or minority-led businesses as a category in their portfolio, like gaming tech or consumer packaged good. Hull, who focuses on building portfolios where financial returns and social impact work hand-in-hand, argues gender and ethnicity are not a business category and investors who dedicate a specific percent of their portfolio to diverse companies are the ones missing out.

“We are doing this backwards," says Hull. “Adding diverse, women-run companies actually de-risks an investment portfolio."

Hull points to research that has found women are more likely to seek outside help when a company is headed for trouble and operate businesses with less debt on average. What's more, a study conducted by First Round Capital concluded that founding teams including a woman outperform their all-male peers by 63 percent.

Ximena Hardstock, a 43-year-old immigrant from Chile experienced this bias first hand before she raised $5.1M for her tech startup. “How do you get an investor to notice you and take you seriously?" says Hardstock. “White men from Harvard have a track record and investors are all looking for entrepreneurs that fit the Zuckerberg mold. But a woman from Chile with an accent who started a technology company? There is no track record for that and this is a problem so many women of color face."

Hardstock came to the U.S. from the suburbs of Santiago when she was just 20-years-old. Alone with no family or connections in the U.S., Hardstock worked as a cleaning lady, a bartender, and a nanny before she began teaching and working in education. “I had a lot of ideas and Chile is still a very conservative country," she says. “Most women become housewives but I wanted to do something different. So, I moved to the U.S."

Hardstock went on to earn a Ph.D. in policy studies, served as vice president of Advocacy for National StudentsFirst and worked as a member of Washington DC mayor Adrian Fenty's cabinet. Her experience working in both education and government exposed her to a need to simplify the process of connecting lawmakers with their constituents. As a result, Hardstock founded Phone2Action, a digital advocacy company that enables organizations and individual citizens to connect with policymakers via email, Twitter, Alexa and Facebook using their mobile phones.

Because venture capital and private equity are not necessarily meritocracies, Hardstock initially struggled to get in an audience with the right investors despite her company's growth potential, her experience, and her education. In fact, it wasn't until she won a competition at SXSW in 2015 that she could get an audience with a serious venture capitalist.

While it may seem like symptoms of a bygone era, both Hardstock and Hull say the path to investor relationships is forged in places where many women of diverse backgrounds are not – ivy league organizations, golf courses and late night post-board meeting cocktails attended mostly by White men of means.

The history of venture capital has never been very balanced, according to Aubrey Blanche, global head of diversity at Atlassian software development company and co-founder of Sycamore, an organization aiming to fix the VC funding gap for underrepresented founders. “White and Asian men have built the venture system and for generations have been seeking out people like themselves to invest in."

Personal and professional networks are critical for founders to connect with investors, but many multicultural women don't have access to the networks their White peers have. According to a study conducted by PRRI, the average White person has one friend who is Black, Latino, Asian, mixed race, and other races. This common situation makes getting that all important warm introduction to established VCs very challenging for multicultural women founders.

“Is the ecosystem of your network equivalent to your net worth? Absolutely," says Hardstock. “For us, we have to build our own ecosystem and recreate what happens on the golf courses and at the Harvard reunions."

To Hardstock's point, most multicultural women with entrepreneurial aspirations lack that Ivy League network. According to reporting published in The New York Times, Black students make up just nine percent of the freshmen at Ivy League schools but 15 percent of college-age Americans. This gap has been largely unchanged since 1980.

While notable female investors such as Arlan Hamilton, Joanne Wilson, and Kathryn Finney are actively working to close the funding gap for women of color, only seven percent of current senior investing partners at the top 100 venture firms are women. Less than three percent of VC funds have Black and Latinx investment partners. Without an influential network, Hardstock and entrepreneurs like her are left screaming for a seat at the table.

When Black, Latina, and Asian women founders do get in the room with the right investors, they have to work harder to get the investors to relate to their products and services. “Entrepreneurs solve problems they understand," says Blanche. “When multicultural women entrepreneurs present their businesses to a homogenous group of male investors who may not be equipped to understand the idea, they may pass on an amazing business."

Take, for example, the founders of Haute Hijab or LOLA. Founders of both successful startups would have to explain the market for their services to a table occupied mostly by men who may never have considered that Muslim women want more convenient access to fashion and have never considered women might prefer to purchase organic tampons.

This lack of familiarity typically means reduced funding for women and a host of other consequences.

As one recent study pointed out, even the way investors frame questions to women can impact funding. According to the Harvard Business Review, female founders are often asked “prevention-oriented" questions focused on safety, responsibility, security, and vigilance. Male founders, on the other hand, are often asked questions focused on hopes, achievement, advancement, and ideals.

When all of these factors are considered, a side letter may not be enough to begin to close the funding gap.

Both Blanche and Hull say real change can be made by democratizing information and education on impact investing. Both women say educating investors and MBA candidates about impact investing is the best way to overcome current bias.

Blanche's organization, Sycamore, produces a newsletter for new angel investors who want to help close the funding gap while making money in the process. Hull's firm has an internship program for multicultural girls from Oakland to expose them to the worlds of investing, entrepreneurship, business leadership, and financial literacy.

“I'm excited about the changes I see," says Blanche. “I see more firm employing the Rooney Law on an institutional level, an increase in smaller firms looking at underserved communities, and the democratization of institutional funding."

Hull adds that as long as multi-cultural women-led firms continue to show returns and outperform or perform on par with companies founded by White men, the investor community will rethink their portfolio strategies.

This piece was originally published in 2018.