Leading businessman and Dragons’ Den investor Theo Paphitis is urging small businesses to say “I’m in” to interest free loans of up to £200,000 from the Carbon Trust.

A £31 million pot is now available for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint – helping them to buy the energy-saving equipment that can cut costs as well as help them to take action on climate change.

Mr Paphitis said: “As a Dragon I know a great business opportunity when I see one and think only a fool would say ‘I’m out’ to the Carbon Trust’s offer of an interest free loan to reduce your business’s carbon footprint.

“The current economic climate means making your business more energy efficient is vital for improving your bottom line as well as making your company as environmentally sustainable as possible.”

Mr Paphitis is supporting the Carbon Trust by donating his time to appear in adverts to be broadcast across national and regional radio stations as part of its campaign beginning to raise awareness of the interest free business loans available.

The Carbon Trust loans are unsecured, interest-free and repayable over a period of up to four years and help small businesses upgrade to more energy efficient equipment in the most cost-effective way – reducing energy bills and cutting their carbon footprint.

Minister for Competitiveness and Small Business, Shriti Vadera, said: “It is a very testing time for British businesses facing a global downturn. Investing in energy-saving equipment allows businesses to cut costs, reduce energy bills and take action on climate change.”

Hugh Jones, solutions director at the Carbon Trust, said: “We know SMEs want to play their part in tackling climate change and reduce their energy costs at the same time, but the current economic climate is making it harder for small businesses to find sources of funding. Our loans of up to £200,000 will finance the ambitious projects we know SMEs want to invest in and significantly reduce both their carbon emissions and their energy bills, helping them reduce operational costs and become more competitive.

“This paves the way for companies to take on projects such as large lighting installations, boilers projects, or multiple equipment purchases such as variable speed drives with compressors and heat recovery equipment.”

The £31 million pot is nearly £10 million larger than the £21.5 million allocated in 2007-08.

Loans allocated last year will reduce carbon emissions by over 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and result in cost savings of nearly £9 million a year.

To find out more, call 0800 085 2005 or visit the Carbon Trust’s website at www.carbontrust.co.uk