Women start businesses every day, but how do they meet their short-term credit needs once they take the plunge? A survey by the National foundation for Women Business Owners sheds some light. In spite of the comparatively high interest rates they carry, credit cards play a huge role in funding businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Even among larger woman-owned businesses, bank loans are a lot less prevalent than you might expect. The results are based on a survey of more than 3,800 woman business owners.

Type of short-term credit and % of respondents who use it

Number of employees

Fewer than 5 5 to 24 25 or more

Credit cards 55% 54% 38%

Vendor credit 32 46 40

Bank loans 14 35 48

Equipment leases 13 28 32

Note: Totals exceed 100% because of multiple responses.

Source: "Financing the Business," the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, Washington, D.C., 1993.