Kam Chera, who owns and runs The Funky Indian restaurant, received an invitation to Buckingham Palace, to acknowledge his Stars on Earth initiative which he launched last year.
Stars on Earth supports young people who might face challenges in gaining work experience and pursuing a career, by offering them the chance to take on front-of-house training at the restaurant during a 10-week programme designed to maximise their abilities and boost their confidence.
Mr Chera said: “I am incredibly privileged to have worked with some inspiring young people who are all very special in their own way.
“Stars on Earth was a chance to give something back, but we walked away from it feeling that we got so much from being part of the experience, and it inspired us to turn this into a broader scheme that will touch the lives of even more people across the city.
“Delivering the Stars on Earth programme has been so rewarding, so to be invited to Buckingham Palace is the icing on the cake and a tremendous honour.”
In the future, the entrepreneur has aspirations to increase the programme to benefit over than 200 young people, and hopes to expand the reach of the initiative beyond Sunderland.
“We saw how working in a real life environment inspired young people, and showed them the options available to them after school,” added Mr Chera.
“We were able to offer one of the young people we supported an apprenticeship. He is now very much part of the team.”
The initiative has been supported by local businesses including Cowell and George, which helped with the branding for Stars on Earth, The MAC Trust and social housing business Gentoo.
Gary Hutchinson, chair of Sunderland Business Partnership said: “Kam is a really inspiring entrepreneur, who has not only succeeded in business, but is using that as a platform to help some of the city’s most vulnerable young people.
“Kam not only flies the flag for Stars on Earth, he does so for Sunderland, and I’d like to congratulate him and his team on behalf of all of the Sunderland Business Partnership.”