While the process of finding and securing small business loans can prove challenging for any small business owner, women entrepreneurs may find that they have to deal with some extra roadblocks along the way. Fortunately, there are gender-specific options and answers to help these important members of the business world get the working capital they need to start up, expand, or renovate their enterprises.

Special Issues Affecting Women Business Owners

While women have made enormous strides in business ownership in the past several decades, to some extent it’s still a man’s world out there — especially where investor funding is concerned. According to a study by Babson College, a mere 2.7 percent of companies funded by venture capital firms were led by women, in spite of the fact that business with women executives had a better chance of receiving high valuations for funding.

Another challenge you may have already noticed is a lack of support from other women at the executive level, simply because there are so few of them to form a supportive environment, as Business News Daily points out. It’s hard to find those counterparts who can lend a sympathetic ear or impart the occasional tidbit of wisdom, not to mention a mentor who can truly guide you through the choppy waters of your early years as a woman entrepreneur. This factor, coupled with the difficulty of securing investor funding, can make you feel as if the whole world’s against you.

Where to Find the Answers

At the most basic level, small business loans for both men and women may come in the form of commercial bank loans, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, lines of credit, and alternative options such as peer-to-peer loans or asset loans. The Huffington Post notes that you can choose between long-term loans (with monthly payments) for major business transitions or working capital, or short-term loans (repaid in a lump sum) for funding specific smaller issues. There are even micro-loans available for one-time emergencies.

Women-specific lending opportunities can help you take full advantage of these various financing options. FitSmallBusiness cites several examples, including KeyBank’s Key4Women program, Union Bank’s dedicated program for women-owned small businesses, Wells Fargo’s $55 billion commitment to women-owned business loans by the year 2020, and PNC’s small army of 900 trained women’s business advocates.

Women-specific organizations such as the Women’s Venture Fund provide not only small business lending assistance but also a community of successful women business leaders who can give you priceless advice and guidance. The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership is another resource dedicated to giving women the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in business — including information on small business loan rates and other financial assistance.

Last but not least, don’t forget that you have alternatives to the traditional loan process, from crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, to online lenders that can offer short-term working capital loans quickly with flexible repayment terms. If that strikes you as a smart way to fund your woman-owned small business, apply at Credibly today!