Kevin Curley tweets himself in the foot?

Kevin Curley, chief exec of NAVCA has just signed off from Twitter pledging a week’s abstinence by way of penance. It seems his mildy critical musings on social enterprise on Twitter have earned him what passes for front-page notoriety in the third sector — a write-up in Third Sector Online.

In his late night tweets Curley mused: “…wondering about social enterprise. Is it charity plus business for social benefit? Or a respectable veneer for profiteers? does calling your organisation a social enterprise give you a licence to do anything which makes money regardless of mission and values?”

Now frankly none of this exactly constitutes a hanging offence but Allison Ogden-Newton, chief exec of Social Enterprise London, has given him both barrels by way of reply.

Is there a word in Twitterish to describe situations of this kind — ill-advised tweets, peer rebuke, self-imposed break from tweeting? Come on Twitterers, if you know it, share it.

  1. Paul Hanna Reply

    it can sometimes be called a #twitstorm i believe

    • Alun Severn Reply

      I knew you would know, Paul! Thank you.

  2. Dave Pinwell Reply

    Kevin’s remarks were ill considered but may be symptomatic of a real issue and Kevin may not be alone such thoughts. The question genuine social entrepreneurs should ask is – is the model open to abuse? The answer may well be ‘yes’.

    I get concerned whenever I hear someone say that social enterprise is a good option for someone who is unemployed, and I hear it quite often. The idea that anyone can set up a sole tradership, call it a social enterprise, get trading and set their own salary makes me very twitchy.

    So, are some sort of standards required to be associated with the term? How could they be policed? How do we stop the brand being tarnished and there being substance to the fears twittered by Kevin?

    • Alun Severn Reply

      Dave — Well put. I think there fears that the SE model is open to abuse, and in some respects the looser and more open the definition, the more open to abuse… For example, I have heard some colleagues who work in SEs spun-out of the NHS say that there are some NHS externalisations they don’t consider to be ‘genuine SEs’.

      But you’re right — the key issue is how is ‘genuine’ measured and safeguarded? Some kind of standard seems to be the only real answer but whether such an arrangement is viable and amenable to ‘policing’ is another matter entirely.

      I have often thought that at the very least SEs should also publish their proportion of earned income and the amount of surplus reinvested in social mission — although I’m not sure that even that would answer the concerns Kevin Curley was raising.

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