Today is American Business Women’s Day!

It’s a day to honor the contributions and accomplishments of the millions of working women in the United States. This event was founded by the American Business Women’s Association, a professional network for women in business and women business owners. It has been celebrated every year on September 22nd since 1982, and was officially recognized by congressional proclamation in 1983.

According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, more than 9.4 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015. In addition, women-owned firms account for 31% of all privately held firms and contribute 14% of employment and 12% of revenues.   

Pretty impressive, right?

As a serial entrepreneur myself, I’ve seen the highs and lows of what it takes to start and operate a business. Are there unique challenges that women face when starting and sustaining their businesses? To answer that question, means to look at the disparity in lending opportunities between men and women.

There is indeed a gap, but it appears to be shrinking. 

According to a study just released by Biz2Credit, a leading small-business lending portal, last year the approval rate on loans for women-owned businesses was 15.3 percent, up from 11.7 percent in 2013. In contrast, the loan approval rate for male-owned businesses was 21.5 percent, up from 18.8 percent in 2013. This narrowed the lending gap by 29 percent.

For me, with my first business, I was able to secure a 504 loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, which allowed me to purchase the property that I put my day spa in. I was also approved for start up capital loan.

And those opportunities for grants and loans are increasing now that the economy is hitting its stride again.

Me? I’m always up for challenge. And being a business woman is definitely no different. While there may be discrepancies, deficiencies, and inequities along the way, I use those as fuel to make my business stronger.

So, to all the women entrepreneurs out there, I salute you. Continue to rise to the occasion and grow your businesses, gurls!