The number of women-owned businesses that applied for funding in 2018 increased by 13%, although their funding amounts went down, according to an annual study of women-owned companies by Biz2Credit.

The study, which included 30,000 companies nationwide in over 20 industries — including retail, healthcare, hospitality, construction and professional services, among others — revealed that the average loan amount for women-owned companies was $48,341 last year. The most common type of funding was working capital for business expansion.

Additionally, the study found that while average annual revenues increased, credit scores for women business owners and the average age of women-owned companies applying for small business loans dipped.

“Small business owners were willing to take more risks in 2018 because the economy was very strong,” said Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora, who oversaw the research. “Women business owners who might have previously held off from borrowing money for expansion or capital improvements, increased last year. Record high optimism and the strong economic tailwinds of 2018 supported the growth of small businesses.”

Biz2Credit found that the average credit scores for women-owned businesses dropped from 598 in 2017 to 588 in 2018 and trailed the scores of their male counterparts (613) by 25 points.

“When we take a macro look, women are increasingly becoming entrepreneurial and are applying for loans at earlier stages of their companies’ life cycles,” added Arora, whose firm has arranged more than $2 billion in financing for small business owners in the past decade. “Their credit scores often are lower because of both the wage gap and the higher amounts of student loans that they are paying off.”

At the same time, average annual revenues of women-owned business rose from $202,491 in 2017 to $228,578 last year.

Meanwhile, businesses owned by men in 2018 generated about 7% more revenue ($473,157) than they did in 2017 ($444,227), and made $244,579 more revenue on average than women-owned businesses last year.

The Biz2Credit research found that the average funded amount for women-owned businesses ($48,341) was 31% less than the same for men-owned businesses ($70,239) in 2018.

Nearly one-in-five loan applications from women-owned businesses were in services (except public administration), which include translation and public relations services, as well as hair salons, nail salons, and cleaning firms, at 19.7%, followed by retail (18.2%). Other industries for which there were the highest percentage of loan applications were: accommodation and food services (14.3%), healthcare and social assistance (7.6%), and construction (6.4%).

Even though women-owned businesses are growing, they still face challenges, especially when the company is in a male-dominated industry. For instance, Maryam Zadeh, owner of the trendy HIIT BOX gym in Brooklyn, NY, had strong personal credit scores and a growing customer base, yet still found it challenging to secure funding.

“We’re a pioneer in Brooklyn with a boutique fitness gym. I can get press and have a level of notoriety, but often lenders will ask me where my ‘male partner’ is,” said Zadeh, who has twice moved into larger spaces because of the growing customer base for her high intensity interval training. “Like any other business, we need growth capital.”