The Association of Bolivian Artisans, or ASARBOLSEM, is an association of member groups based on the traditional cooperative model. Members play an important role in overseeing the activities of the organization.
ASARBOLSEM was established in 1989 to provide income opportunities for vulnerable people suffering the effects of el Niño and the loss of mining jobs. Until 1985, the mining industry dominated the Bolivian economy. By 1985, however, the mining sector was shrinking rapidly and many mines closed. This caused huge dislocation and migration for moved to the La Paz and El Alto region in search of work. Particularly vulnerable are single mothers, widows, abandoned women and people with handicaps. ASARBOLSEM provides training and product development assistance to artisans, as well as marketing support.
Artisans of ASARBOLSEM are primarily from the agricultural communities of the region surrounding El Alto and La Paz. The income they gain through creation of handicrafts is a vital supplement to income from agricultural work. Some artisans are also residents of neighborhoods in El Alto. ASARBOLSEM is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).
Ten Thousand Villages purchases hand-woven alpaca fiber items from ASARBOLSEM. Ten Thousand Villages began purchasing products from ASARBOLSEM in 2009.
- Artisan Products