Program Report: Dave Kirkpatrick – Impact Investing


At the end of the day is a terrible cliché.

But Durham investment guru Dave Kirkpatrick closed his briefing Monday on positive impact investing with a literal reference to the end of the day, when one goes to sleep at night, or attempts to.

For at least some hard-charging investors, sleep might sometimes prove elusive. What’s that hard-earned investment dollar really enabling?

At lunch, Kirkpatrick presented a pathway to investing well and sleeping well with a profit.

And in so doing, he outlined the impressive growth and national success of SJF Ventures, a locally based positive impact growth equity fund where he is a managing director and co-founder. The growing company now operates from offices in Durham, New York, and San Francisco, among other cities. It has big-time partnerships and a book of portfolio companies that are amassing a goodly number of investor checks.

“All of your assets can be aligned with your values,” said Kirkpatrick, who co-founded the entity nearly two decades in Durham. “You can get competitive returns fully aligned with the values of your foundation, your family or (you) as an individual.”

Kirkpatrick’s firm has hit the major leagues now as a positive impact equity fund focused on high-growth companies creating, in the words of its website, “a healthier, smarter and cleaner future.”

Kirkpatrick highlighted several examples among its investment portfolio across three funds that invest, among other things, in solar energy, smart transportation and better ways to match college micro-scholarships to worthy students who need the financial help.

Last December, the company closed a $125 million fund that was oversubscribed by more than two dozen foundation endowments, family offices, pensions, and individuals who are active in impact investing.

How to find the winners?

Kirkpatrick said analysts try to find companies “pursuing a positive theme.”  Then SJF works to get engaged with the company, to research it, to help it attract talent, even to provide support at the board level.

Asked by this week’s correspondent if SJF avoids certain companies and sectors, Kirkpatrick identified the oil and natural gas industries as arenas it avoids, but said he does not believe the funds are missing opportunities for competitive returns.

He said the firm’s success would not have been impossible without an enthusiastic and friendly home in Durham. Our thanks to Dave Kirkpatrick for highlighting profitable pathways to a good night’s sleep.

Dave Kirkpatrick was introduced by Rotarian Michael Palmer who knew Kirkpatrick from when Kirkpatrick founded Sunshares. SJF Ventures’ website is

Submitted by Mark Lazenby

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