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 forceds people to move to the La Paz and El Alto region in search of work. ASARBOLSEM provides training and product development assistance to artisans, as well as marketing support. Ten Thousand Villages began purchasing products from ASARBOLSEM in 2009.