The Spirit Lives: Planning for Success.
Ottawa: Aboriginal Business Canada, 1996. CD-ROM $25.00.
Sponsored by Canadian Bankers Association and Aboriginal Women's Council, with support from Aboriginal Business Canada (Industry Canada). Co-ordinated by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education.
Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
The Spirit Lives: Planning for Success is a CD-ROM published by the Canadian Bankers Association in conjunction with the Aboriginal Women's Council, Industry Canada and several other organizations. It is a multimedia teaching resource designed for potential Aboriginal entrepreneurs. It incorporates video material from the series The Spirit Lives: Aboriginal Entrepreneurs in Canada which was a project of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education in Association with Kwakiutl District Council and Wawatay Native Communications Society.
The CD-ROM recommends a 486 DX and runs on Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. Eight megabytes of RAM are necessary, although it will operate more slowly on a platform less than the one suggested. It is easily installed. On a system that fills its basic requirements, the CD-ROM operates well, but not swiftly.
The information contained on this CD-ROM would be equally well-suited to a booklet format. The interactive portions of The Spirit Lives offer lessons, puzzles, games and a variety of scenarios in which an entrepreneur's chances of success are affected by the choices made. However, these are not essential elements that would make it a worthwhile purchase. The organization of this CD-ROM is polished, but offers more bells and whistles than are needed.
The CD opens with a picture of the narrator, who guides the user through the program. She offers useful explanations in clear audio. But, when the user wants to access different functions such as the Daytimer or the Venture planner on a regular basis, the narrator cannot be deleted.
Clicking on the right mouse button makes a menu pop up, from which the user can select the Land of Enterprise, the Venture Planner, the Daytimer or the Glossary. By left-clicking on the Land of Enterprise, the user is taken to a Main Regional Map, and can then select from seven areas: the Information Centre, Skills, the Library, Planning, Opportunity and Characteristics. By clicking on any of these areas, the user goes further into the program. For example, choosing the Information Centre provides the user with information on bank loans for small businesses, the Indian Act, and video clips from Aboriginal entrepreneurs. The Library leads to information on taxation, copyright, collateral security, women entrepreneurs and gives examples of venture plans. The information is basic. Choosing Skills offers the user the CEO Game, a timed exercise in which the player must choose the right individuals to fill four corporate positions. The CEO must choose the right combination of people and decide the salaries, hours of work and the nature of the employees' personalities. The Opportunity area leads to a laboratory, with a microscope, binoculars, etc., where the user can "examine" his or her potential.
These time-consuming gimmicks will only assist a potential entrepreneur at the earliest stages of their venture-building. The Daytimer and the Venture Planner offer blank pages on which the entrepreneur can jot down ideas or notes. The Daytimer offers hints, and the Venture Planner organizes the user's business plan, listing everything needed from the Introductory Letter to the Financial Plan, Management and the Conclusion. But clicking on each of the items listed in Venture Planner leads only to a blank page for writing. A notebook would serve the same purpose, and is easier to flip through.
The most interesting and positive feature of this CD-ROM for Aboriginal entrepreneurs is the video clips and sound bytes from Aboriginals who are engaged in business. The user finds that they come from a variety of backgrounds and have developed a wide variety of businesses, some of which are related to life on reserves. An individual might develop ideas from watching these clips. A serious entrepreneur would leave this CD-ROM behind very quickly, though, because the demands of setting up one's own business require far too much time and effort to spend time waiting for the computer to access a few lines about cash flow, the Indian Act or a page of notes.
This CD-ROM would be most applicable for a school situation where students are at the initial stages of imagining how to set up a business.
Recommended with reservations.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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