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Virgin Island’s Trailblazers Awarded $48,000

Christopher McDonald, Mitchell Turnbull, and Walter Morris were given $48,000 at the University of the Virgin Islands’ annual 13D Entrepreneurship Business Launch Competition, providing them with start-up funds for their entrepreneurial endeavors.

The 13D Competition, which took place online May 6, is intended to provide UVI student entrepreneurs with funds to assist them to launch their businesses. Mitchell Turnbull and Walter Morris received $24,000 for their “Cash N’ Crypto” proposal, and Christopher McDonald received $24,000 for his “MappIt” concept.

When Christopher McDonald attended an internship at NASA Ames Research Center in 2017, it sparked his interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). His project was to monitor the land-use change of St. Croix from 1985 to 2017 using Earth Observations data. He was inspired to start a GIS company in the US Virgin Islands as a result of his experience there. Over the years, he improved his skills and gained the knowledge necessary to create MappIt.

Christopher McDonald (submitted photo)

McDonald mentioned, “My plan for MappIt is to develop a greater interest for GIS services here in the US Virgin Islands. I also want to increase the knowledge and importance of how GIS is used to create and analyze data. GIS can be used in various organizations. As technology is increasing, the demand for GIS services is increasing. One of my goals is to create GIS programs for junior high and high school students. This program will give students first-hand experience in creating hazard maps and locating flood risk zones within the territory.”

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With the help of government agencies, McDonald hopes to expand the scope of his work. He would also like to see Mappit become one of the best GIS companies in the Virgin Islands. MappIt will help the US Virgin Islands collect, store, and distribute data.

“The only roadblock I faced was not believing that I could create MappIt. When you’re young, you often doubt yourself and your abilities to succeed. I realized that the only person that was stopping me was myself. I had to remind myself that anything is possible once you have faith,” said McDonald.

Mitchell Turnbull and Walter Morris got the ball rolling on their “Cash N’ Crypto” business during their first year of college. They were two young men ages 17 and 19, working together and thinking outside of the box. They spent close to a year conducting research and developing their concept for a business.

Mitchell Turnbull (submitted photo)

While pursuing their business idea, they encountered obstacles, one of which was their inability to find a place to connect with people who could have knowledge of possible markets for their company’s growth. They discussed the legal requirements for launching a company of this nature in the Virgin Islands with the Department of Finance. After speaking with a number of educated individuals in the business world, they came to the conclusion that it should still be possible to run a business like this in the Virgin Islands.

Walter Morris (submitted photo)

They also explained their plans for the future. “Since this concept is new to the U.S Virgin Islands, I plan on educating the people of the VI that Crypto ATMs are just like any other ATM but with cryptocurrency providers. Also, teaching them how to make and use a Crypto wallet for different providers on the ATMs. Finally, franchising the company once we have a strong foothold in St. Thomas,” said Morris.

“I want the people of the Virgin Islands to be kept in the loop for financial education and to not miss out on this revolutionary industry of decentralized finance and cryptocurrency. I would have to say that for me personally, who is now 18 years of age, winning this competition is a sign of my transition into adulthood. This win and recognition are the fruits of my labor and a signal to the VI that I, Mitchell Turnbull, am ready to step into the world of business to help my community.”

Morris wishes to be identified by big-time businesses and create collaborations with them to expand his company. He wants “Cash N’ Crypto” to be successful one day and to open workshops that will teach other children.

Turnbull’s dream with the “Cash N’ Crypto” business was to first start a small local business in the VI. However, after hearing the feedback of various people that reached out to him after the press release, his expectations of this business have risen, and he believes that once the business is operable, the potential for it to become much larger such as an ATM chain is there and is now the new goal. Both he and Walter are going to pursue this business once they become “operable” and the markets have been tested.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” said McDonald.

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